TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—Drivers who use the Howard Frankland Bridge will have to find other routes this weekend.
The bridge will be closed to drivers from 8 p.m. Saturday to noon Sunday.
The closure is part of the $594.7 million Gateway Expressway project that will create two elevated toll roads connecting US-19 and I-275, and the Bayside Bridge and I-275.
FDOT representative Kris Carson said the closure will allow crews to remove the 4th Street North bridge over I-275.
“We obviously can’t have traffic underneath that as we take that piece down. For safety reasons, we have to shut the Howard Frankland Bridge for one night only,” Carson said. “We are letting motorists know to please add 30 to 40 minutes to any travel time especially if they have to get to the airport.”
It will also allow officials to test and tweak equipment that detects wrong-way drivers.
“The whole idea is to save lives and to be able to notify the Florida Highway Patrol as soon as we get word. Cameras pick up that there’s a wrong-way driver. The quicker we can stop that wrong-way driver it will obviously, hopefully save lives,” Carson added.
The shutdown was originally scheduled for Jan. 9, but was pushed back to this weekend.
It’s the first time the bridge has been completely shut down. Drivers can use the Courtney Campbell Causeway or the Gandy Bridge as alternate routes.
“We had a piece of equipment that’s going to come in and actually lift up that bridge to remove it. The equipment was not in yet so we had to delay and receive that bridge equipment that’s why we had to shift it to this weekend,” Carson explained.
Once the bridge reopens, the northbound off ramp at 4th Street will remain closed until the ramp is rebuilt in late 2021. In the meantime, motorists can take the exit onto Ulmerton Road.
“The traffic flow for that ramp being closed really shouldn’t affect it too much possibly five to ten minutes for some people’s commute.”