Travel between St. Petersburg and Tampa is getting a major upgrade. The Florida Department of Transportation’s Howard Frankland expansion project is underway, and is on track to be completed by 2025. FDOT is rebuilding the existing northbound bridge, which was originally constructed in 1959, and adding capacity to alleviate traffic congestion. Travelers across the bridge can witness myriad cranes bringing the expansion to life.
Construction costs for the project were estimated to be $865 million. Plans were first announced back in 2017, and then FDOT conducted public outreach on the project. As part of feedback from the community, FDOT is constructing aesthetic features that will be visible to drivers, boaters and shared path users. These aesthetic features will be located along the overlooks and on each side of the bridge, welcoming you to both Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. The newly built connection will add capacity and mobility to account for future growth of the Tampa/St. Pete region and will allow for improved emergency management scenarios and hurricane evacuations.
Howard Frankland Bridge creates bike path between Pinellas and Hillsborough
The new Howard Frankland Bridge will provide four general purpose lanes and two tolled express lanes in each direction. The project also includes a bike/pedestrian path that will connect Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.
The new design improves incident management in emergency response situations and provides additional capacity along a critical evacuation route. A portion of the new bridge is being constructed to hold additional weight and can accommodate potential future transit, up to a light rail transit system. Should light rail transit be locally supported for implementation, the existing southbound (1991) bridge would then be widened and travel lanes shifted to the widened bridge.
Public art to adorn the new bridge
The bike and pedestrian path is being constructed to provide the community another way across Tampa Bay. The path is approximately 12 feet wide and is separated from the roadway by a barrier. Along the path, four bridge overlooks provide users a resting spot with shade and seating. The pedestrian path connects near 4th Street in Pinellas County and near Reo Street in Hillsborough County.
This project is a design-build project, which means that an overall design concept was put out to bid with design requirements specified in a Request for Proposals. The successful contractor was selected from multiple qualified firms bidding on the contract.
Express lanes part of the new Howard Frankland
The project includes two tolled express lanes in each direction to provide additional capacity, relieve congestion and provide a more reliable travel time option for passenger and transit vehicles. Tolling will be “dynamic” meaning prices change based on the amount of traffic in the express lanes which maintains a steady traffic flow in the lanes.
You can learn more about the project on the FDOT’s website.