PD&E Study & 2017 Design Change Re-evaluation
The original PD&E Study evaluated operational improvements to provide two continuous lanes in each direction on I-275 in Segments A and B, and provide express lanes in each direction in Segment C. Following a Public Hearing held on September 29, 2015, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the Type II Categorical Exclusion (Type II CE) on July 15, 2016 for these improvements.
Subsequent to FHWA approval of the Type II CE, a Design Change Re-evaluation was undertaken in 2017 to evaluate re-purposing the approved express lane configuration within Segment C from south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street North to 1.0 mile south of the Howard Frankland Bridge. The re-purposing of one of the two approved express lanes was needed to accommodate three general use lanes, one auxiliary lane, and one express lane in each direction. This re-evaluation was approved by FDOT Office of Environmental Management (OEM) on April 26, 2017. The acceptance of the Type II CE and the 2017 Re-evaluation constituted approval for the Design-Build construction that is currently underway as part of the I-275 Design Build Project (424501-2-52-01) within Segment C from south of Gandy Boulevard to north of 4th Street North, which is part of the Gateway Expressway Design Build Project (433880-1-52-01).
Current Design Change and Right-of-Way Re-evaluation
The current Design Change and Right-of-Way Re-evaluation evaluated the impacts of further changes to the previously approved PD&E studies. The current re-evaluation evaluated the addition of two express lanes on I-275 in Segment B from north of I-375 to south of Gandy Boulevard and the addition of a second express lane in Segment C from south of Gandy Boulevard to north of 4th Street North. These proposed improvements would tie-in with improvements to the Howard Frankland Bridge currently under construction.
The current re-evaluation also analyzed replacing the I-275 ramp bridges on 4th Street North over Big Island Gap, providing trail connections from the Howard Frankland Bridge to 4th Street North and Ulmerton Road, and ramp connection modifications at the Gandy Boulevard interchange. To meet drainage and stormwater requirements, pond sites will be needed to accommodate new impervious surface due to widening to accommodate express lanes. Several of these new pond site locations will be outside of the existing right-of-way. FDOT is conducting an Environmental Look Around (ELA) to identify opportunities to reduce or eliminate right-of-way required for pond sites as identified through the Re-evaluation. The ELA is ongoing and will be completed during the design phase.
To best describe the planned improvements, the study corridor is divided into three segments. The typical section for Segments B and C changed as noted below. No changes are proposed for Segment A (south of 54th Avenue South to I-375).
Figure 1 shows the Preferred Build Alternative typical section for I-275 from I-375 to north of 4th Street. The typical section primarily consist of three general purposes lanes with an auxiliary lane, where appropriate, and 2 express lanes in each direction. The outside paved shoulder varies between 10-12 ft and the inside shoulder varies between 12-15 ft.
Segment B/C – I-275 from I-375 to north of 4th Street Typical Section (Preferred Build Alternative Typical Section)
Following the public hearing, the Preferred Build Alternative was selected based on a determination that the No Build Alternative did not meet the purpose and need of the project to increase capacity and relieve congestion along the corridor. The proposed improvements will reduce future traffic congestion and improve traffic operations and safety along I-275.