For the growing new Tampa and Wesley Chapel communities, Interstate 75 is the main connector. But can the road handle the amount of traffic it is expected to take in the coming years?
- Long lines to get on ramp for State Road 56
- Resident suggests new exit; FDOT says it's not possible
- Transportation officials looking at 1 option that could work
- Have a Traffic Inbox story for Chuck? Click here
To help take pressure off I-75, the state extended the northbound exit ramp at State Road 56 nearly two miles. But resident Jessica Vega said a new exit may be the answer.
"The line to get on to the ramp goes all the way back to the exit for Bruce B. Downs," Vega said. "And it really just backs up the rest of the interstate's traffic for people trying just to get on there. Then, once you're on there, you're stuck."
After motorists take the exit for S.R. 56, barrier walls keep drivers from getting back to the interstate.
Then, there are those who just won't wait in line.
"So they get back onto the interstate and take it as far up as the entrance to the ramp and then cut back into the line," Vega said.
Vega's suggestion is a new exit at County Line Road.
"If they could get off at County Line Road instead of waiting to get onto 56, where people are trying to get to the mall or the businesses as well as the resident areas there, I think that would alleviate a lot of that traffic trying to get all off at that one exit," she said.
Kris Carson of the Florida Department of Transportation said it's not possible to put an exit in at County Line. The reasons? It's too close to the S.R. 56 exit, there are environmental issues, the nearby rest area and the airport.
But Carson said FDOT has been looking at one option that might work.
"What we're looking at right now is starting construction later this year on I-75 and State Road 56, where we're going to take that interchange and make it a diverging diamond interchange," Carson said. "Essentially, we're going to try to clear cars through there faster to get them off that ramp."
Folks who drive I-75 at University Parkway in Sarasota know how that type of interchange works. It has removed a majority of the traffic jams there since opening last fall.