Howard Frankland Bridge
American is preparing a PD&E study to evaluate replacing the northbound I-275/Howard Frankland Bridge. The Howard Frankland Bridge is one of three crossings over Tampa Bay connecting Hillsborough to Pinellas County. The northbound bridge has reached the end of its serviceable life. This bridge crossing measures roughly 3 miles in length and carries over 157,000 vehicles per day. By year 2040, the future traffic volume is projected to exceed 225,000 vehicles per day. The study entailed a regional transit corridor evaluation, preliminary alternative analysis work to identify, and identifying long term transit options consistent with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority’s master plan and in association with replacing the northbound bridge structure. The recommended alternative will provide a new bridge structure that will carry eight lanes of traffic with four general purpose southbound lanes, two express lanes in each direction, and a bike/pedestrian trail. The addition of express lanes are consistent with the Tampa Bay Express Master Plan which identified a system of tolled express lanes throughout many portions of the interstate highway system in the Tampa Bay area. The new bridge structure will be situated to the northwest of the existing southbound bridge which will be retrofitted to carry northbound traffic after the new bridge is constructed. The new bridge will also be designed to carry loadings for a possible future transit light rail system, should light rail transit be accepted by the counties on both sides of Tampa Bay. The vertical clearance of the new bridge will match or exceed the clearance of the southbound bridge at the center and the approach spans will be raised to clear estimated wave heights of Tampa Bay during future storm events. The U.S. Coast Guard is a cooperating agency. The existing northbound bridge will be demolished at the end of a planned 4-year construction period. A public hearing was held in 2013, and after changing the recommended alternative based on public input, a second hearing was held in November 2017. The PD&E study documents have been submitted to FDOT’s Office of Environmental Management for review and ultimately approval under a NEPA Assignment agreement with the Federal Highway Administration.