Howard Frankland Bridge southbound lanes closes Monday night for six hours

The southbound lanes of the Howard Frankland Bridge heading from Tampa to St. Petersburg temporarily closed at 11 p.m. Monday for construction work on a Pinellas County project.

The Florida Department of Transportation shut down the southbound lanes of I-275 at the bridge at 11 p.m. Monday and it is expected to remain closed until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

"So the closure is happening now because we have to erect a very large sign structure," said Kris Carson, a spokesperson with FDOT Tampa. "It's just in a contractor schedule. It's just a main item of work. They have to get it done."

The closure is necessary, so crews can install overhead signs. During that time, FDOT said there will be detours to help drivers, but they're still encouraging them to plan ahead.

It's an important step in the Gateway Expressway Project which involves constructing two new two-lane elevated tolled roadways that will provide direct connections between U.S. Highway 19, Interstate 275, and the Bayside Bridge.

"We have a lot of visitors and new people visiting Florida and the Tampa Bay area, so this is just one of the major projects we have planned to help keep motorists moving and keep businesses flowing," said FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson.

READ: Howard Frankland Bridge project on schedule for 2025 completion, FDOT says

Once finished in 2023, the Gateway Expressway will include two new elevated toll roads connecting Bayside Bridge to I-275 and U.S. 19 to I-275. That traffic will funnel onto the Howard Frankland Bridge, which FDOT is currently replacing.  

"Yes, these projects will definitely work together, the Gateway Expressway project into the brand new Howard Frankland Bridge," said Carson.

FDOT said drivers are watching beam placement now and see deck construction starts this fall. The bridge replacement project is expected to be finished in 2025.

"We're about 51% done of all the pilings for the bridge foundations, that has all been driven. And we've got about 265 of the 549 bridge footings that have been constructed," said Carson.

There's more work ahead for bridge replacement and the Gateway Expressway, all to accommodate Tampa Bay's growth.

"It means a lot of construction, but it also means a lot of relief and more capacity is coming our way," said Carson.

For the Gateway project, FDOT expects the sign structure installation to finish by 5 a.m. if there are no hiccups along the way. The plan is to have the southbound lanes reopened for Tuesday’s morning rush hour traffic.

During the time of the closure, FDOT will be directing drivers to exit I-275 South from the Dale Mabry exit, then continue south to the Gandy Bridge. From there, drivers will head west on the Gandy Bridge, then north on Roosevelt Boulevard, where they'll be able to enter the southbound I-275 entrance ramp.