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Author Topic: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida  (Read 3038 times)

roadman65

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From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« on: May 12, 2021, 08:12:37 AM »

Many people over the years have avoided Orlando to get from points north of Jacksonville to Tampa, St. Pete, or further south along Gulf Coast.

Instead of using I-95 to I-4 (that is the easiest by being direct on plot points), many exit on SR 200 and use it to Waldo and cut over to I-75 at Gainesville or exit on I-295 to I-10 West to either 301 (SR 200) or remain on I-10 to I-75.


All of this to avoid the I-4 travesty that came along with the “Hey let’s move to Florida purge” that clogged what was once a free flowing interstate to a traffic nightmare.  The worst is between US 192 and US 27 making it a bad drive from where I live now to anywhere in East Central Florida.

Even using CR 545 in Osceola don’t work as it became clogged thanks to Davenport becoming a bedroom community to downtown Orlando and Disney. Forget US 17 & 92 as that sucks as well as US 27 with all the once 55 plus trailer parks are more bedroom communities with houses for Central Florida commuters clogging once 65 mph posted US 27.


How do most of you deal with bypassing Orlando and I-4?
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2021, 08:57:28 AM »

Many people over the years have avoided Orlando to get from points north of Jacksonville to Tampa, St. Pete, or further south along Gulf Coast.

Instead of using I-95 to I-4 (that is the easiest by being direct on plot points), many exit on SR 200 and use it to Waldo and cut over to I-75 at Gainesville or exit on I-295 to I-10 West to either 301 (SR 200) or remain on I-10 to I-75.


All of this to avoid the I-4 travesty that came along with the “Hey let’s move to Florida purge” that clogged what was once a free flowing interstate to a traffic nightmare.  The worst is between US 192 and US 27 making it a bad drive from where I live now to anywhere in East Central Florida.

How do most of you deal with bypassing Orlando and I-4?

Our son and daughter-in-law moved to Apollo Beach 6 years ago so our DIL could complete her residency and fellowship (they moved to Baton Rouge back in July). The standard route from Southwest Virginia is/was I-81/I-77/I-26/I-95* and then variations from Jacksonville. We did the I-4 thing once or twice (going south we would hit there in late evening so traffic wasn't terrible). Then we shifted to the I-295/I-10 jog to U.S. 301 and took that south to Zuber and I-75. On a whim returning home one trip, we kept going north on 301 at Baldwin and never looked back. Why none of the routing programs picked that route was baffling -- other than Starke and one or two other wide spot burgs, it was a near-empty 4-lane highway that was a more direct link to I-95 than the Jacksonville routing. We did get to enjoy the Starke bypass but just missed out on the Baldwin bypass.

A year ago we were in Apollo Beach for several weeks, quarantined for the impending birth of our first grandchild, born March 30. We left for home on Sunday, April 6, not far into the pandemic lockdown. Given that there was no traffic because everyone was staying home, I opted to take I-4 for a change. It was almost deserted and we blew through Orlando without a hitch (other than being slowed by all the construction). The entire trip was like that and we made it to Blacksburg in about 11 hours (normally the trip took anywhere from 12 [if we were lucky] to upwards of 15 hours).

*I DO NOT miss traveling I-26 and I-95 in South Carolina. Those roads were the reason for some of the 15-hour trips due to bad timing and over capacity for the two lanes. While it takes a little longer to drive to Baton Rouge that trip is much less stressful than our trips to Florida, mainly because large parts of it are in the middle of nowhere Alabama and Mississippi (Knoxville and Chattanooga are abominations on the interstate system though).

Bruce in Blacksburg
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2021, 09:04:07 AM »

FL 50, FL 19 and US 17.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 09:19:50 AM »

For me, it depends on where we're coming from (including whether we take the Auto Train), where we're headed in Florida, and whether we stop to visit our friend who lives southwest of Jacksonville at Lake Asbury.

If we take the Auto Train, which drops you in Sanford, we use either of the tolled beltways around Orlando. I've become partial to the western side (FL-429).

If we drive the whole way and we aren't going to stop near Jacksonville, I sometimes head across to I-75 further north. A few years ago Mapmikey suggested using Georgia's Fall Line Expressway from Augusta to Macon. It was a good route (and it is substantially more complete now than it was then), so I've been thinking about going that way again. We connect to Augusta via either I-77 or I-95 to I-20.

If we do stop near Jacksonville, we use the new FL-23 toll road down to Lake Asbury and then I'll usually use some combination of FL-16 and FL-21 to US-301. Then it's just a case of how close I'm willing to get to Ocala before getting back on the Interstate.

A couple of years ago, I used US-17 south from Green Cove Springs to DeLand, then cut southwest on FL-44 down to near the end of FL-429. That route was good as far as Palatka. It was fairly slow south of there and I doubt I'll go that way again. From Palatka, FL-100 and US-1 across to I-95 are a good way to go and I would do that again.

For our upcoming trip south, which will include a stop near Jacksonville, I am considering using FL-19 from Palatka to the Mount Dora area, as Max Rockatansky suggested in another thread, but I'm undecided because it's a long stretch on two-lane roads and I'm not sure whether my wife will stand for it. We're heading to Weston, so I may cut west via US-301 to I-75 and then just take the Turnpike. (Yes, I know I-95 is faster, but I want to avoid the Space Coast area for emotional reasons: My wife's sister lived just off I-95 in Viera, but she died last year, my wife took it extremely hard, and I'm not sure I want to subject her to passing that close to where her sister lived.)

BTW, in the Jacksonville area we normally use I-295 if we want to connect to I-10, FL-23, etc. west of town. Reason: The exit for JAX Airport is right around 690 miles from home, so that's an ideal distance to drive in a single day and we usually stop for the night there if we're taking I-95 south.
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GaryV

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2021, 11:26:19 AM »

Google Maps from Savannah GA to Tampa FL uses I-10 and US-301 to get from Jacksonville to Ocala and I-75.  It doesn't even suggest going through Daytona and Orlando.  Forcing a route through Orlando only adds about 15 minutes.

An option given is US-82,  US-84 and US-441 through GA, but that's over an hour longer.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2021, 01:58:56 PM »

Coming north from Sarasota, I take I-75 and exit up past Ocala.  I then take county roads and go through Middleburg.  After that I take the First Coast Expressway, Jacksonville's outer by-pass, up to I-10 and continue northward on I-295 and I-95.

I don't know if this route is longer timewise or in distance.  But, it is a pleasant drive with very light traffic and avoids the hassles that are Orlando and US-301.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2021, 04:31:42 PM »


If we drive the whole way and we aren't going to stop near Jacksonville, I sometimes head across to I-75 further north. A few years ago Mapmikey suggested using Georgia's Fall Line Expressway from Augusta to Macon. It was a good route (and it is substantially more complete now than it was then), so I've been thinking about going that way again. We connect to Augusta via either I-77 or I-95 to I-20.


This is getting off topic but IMO I wouldn't use the Fall Line "freeway" to go from Augusta to Macon. Instead I would use I-20 leaving Augusta to GA 44 (exit 130, Greensboro), then take GA 44 to US 129 to Macon.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2021, 06:47:57 PM »

I was stuck in Davenport for a month, and yes, traffic really really sucks in the Orlando area. Thing is the part of I-4 that is clogged was my destination. Best I could do is take 417 to bypass most of the mess. Taking 301 would have done little good. I would have taken the Turnpike down to 429....which leads one onto I-4 Hell. The only option is to get off at Sinclair Rd., but CR-545/Old Lake Wilson Rd. is perpetually clogged because there is literally no alternative north-south route thru the area.

Its likely impossible, but extending World Dr. south would help relieve some of the traffic. Operational improvements on I-4 are needed too. A 4th lane from US-27 to FL-417 and an aux lane between Exit 58 and 60 are desperately needed. Only the latter is planned. What civil engineer thought it was a bright idea to dump two freeway's worth of traffic on I-4 there?
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Mileage Mike

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2021, 07:50:55 PM »

On the note of I-4 what's the deal with it only being 6 lanes between Orlando and Tampa? Just spent a few months in the area and can probably count on 1 hand the number of days I could drive on I-4 without a stoppage at some point. Kind of shocking to see the freeway that connects two very large metros is only a puny six lanes. Does Florida have any plans to widen it in the near future?
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2021, 08:59:03 PM »

On the note of I-4 what's the deal with it only being 6 lanes between Orlando and Tampa? Just spent a few months in the area and can probably count on 1 hand the number of days I could drive on I-4 without a stoppage at some point. Kind of shocking to see the freeway that connects two very large metros is only a puny six lanes. Does Florida have any plans to widen it in the near future?

The only plans I have heard for I-4 is an extension of the current Orlando (I-4 Ultimate) project adding 4 toll lanes in the median from US 27 in Davenport to just over the Seminole/Volusia County Line.  Rapid population growth in central Florida is to blame.  Just 20 years ago, most of I-4 (outside of downtown Orlando/Disney area) was only 2 lanes each way!!!  I-4 was just widened to 6 lanes from Tampa to Orlando in the early 2000's, and Sanford to Daytona was just wrapped up about 5 years ago!!!
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1995hoo

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2021, 07:08:00 PM »


If we drive the whole way and we aren't going to stop near Jacksonville, I sometimes head across to I-75 further north. A few years ago Mapmikey suggested using Georgia's Fall Line Expressway from Augusta to Macon. It was a good route (and it is substantially more complete now than it was then), so I've been thinking about going that way again. We connect to Augusta via either I-77 or I-95 to I-20.


This is getting off topic but IMO I wouldn't use the Fall Line "freeway" to go from Augusta to Macon. Instead I would use I-20 leaving Augusta to GA 44 (exit 130, Greensboro), then take GA 44 to US 129 to Macon.

I might do that someday when I have more free time because I’d like to visit the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2021, 06:29:25 PM »

Coming south today, our visit in Lake Asbury was postponed because our friend is moving, so I took I-10 west to US-301, then south (including Alt 301 around Starke) to FL-326 (I actually took the turn before that, 77th Street, due to a clump of slow trucks and a red light). This was a very good route; the 70-mph Starke bypass is a nice road, and overall traffic was so light that getting back on the Interstate was a bummer. Note there is a big construction project underway on I-10 at the US-301 interchange. Not sure what they’re doing, and it didn’t really delay us, but the temporary signage appeared to confuse a trucker who swerved at the last minute and almost caused a wreck.
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NJRoadfan

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2021, 10:44:12 PM »

I've noticed that temporary construction zone signing in FL can be hit or miss (no pun intended). The signing for the I-95 north on-ramp from I-295 north/outer loop north of Jacksonville is atrocious at the moment.
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D-Dey65

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2021, 12:05:55 AM »

The last time I drove through Orlando, I didn't avoid I-4 at all.

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2021, 12:27:22 AM »

The I-4 Orlando plague has sadly spread beyond Orlando. I-4 between I-75 and the Polk Parkway West exit is also a disaster anymore, specifically near all of the Plant City exits. I have to drive from the Orlando area to Pinellas County this weekend and I’m expecting a 3+ hour minimum drive with 2 major accidents along I-4. Sometime my GPS has told me it’s only 10 mins longer to take the Turnpike all the way up to CR-470 in Sumter County and take it over to I-75 to get to the Tampa Bay Area with all the Traffic on I-4.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2021, 02:47:40 AM »

I have generally had good luck taking 295 to 10 to 301 and cutting over to 75 via NW 77th St and FL 326 north of Ocala.  I will definitely try out FL 200 to avoid Jacksonville altogether, especially since much of 295 is only four lanes.

Years ago I used to consider US 27 to FL 29 to FL 80 to be a halfway decent route to get from Orlando to Ft. Myers that avoided Tampa and the (at the time) four-lane stretch of 75 below Venice.  But from what I’m reading here now, I should just completely avoid Orlando unless I have business there, and since 75 is pretty much all six lanes to Naples I should just stick with it.  Though at this point I’m starting to get annoyed with the traffic on 75 b/w 10 and the Turnpike, and they really need to get the Suncoast Parkway built up to at least I-10, and a short Turnpike northern extension to it.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2021, 01:10:40 PM »

I-95/FL 407/FL 528. There's a reason 528 used to be known as the BEE LINE. The toll booth at the airport's gone. Pay the man and punch it.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2021, 04:09:03 PM »

Note there is a big construction project underway on I-10 at the US-301 interchange. Not sure what they’re doing, and it didn’t really delay us, but the temporary signage appeared to confuse a trucker who swerved at the last minute and almost caused a wreck.

This seems to be a make-work project since it has been going on for about 6 years now. One piece that did get done was a new ramp from U.S. 301 north to I-10 east, offering up an exit on the right from U.S. 301. Until that was done, there was a left turn at a short traffic light that backed up traffic for a distance (mainly trucks from the truck stops there).

Bruce in Blacksburg
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D-Dey65

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2021, 10:14:52 PM »

Note there is a big construction project underway on I-10 at the US-301 interchange. Not sure what they’re doing, and it didn’t really delay us, but the temporary signage appeared to confuse a trucker who swerved at the last minute and almost caused a wreck.

This seems to be a make-work project since it has been going on for about 6 years now. One piece that did get done was a new ramp from U.S. 301 north to I-10 east, offering up an exit on the right from U.S. 301. Until that was done, there was a left turn at a short traffic light that backed up traffic for a distance (mainly trucks from the truck stops there).

Bruce in Blacksburg

Really? Because I thought that was partially in conjunction with the construction of the Baldwin Bypass.
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    • I-95; Still not finished in Boston, Central New Jersey, or Washington, D.C.
Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2021, 11:02:28 PM »

What I used to do is take I-295 to US 17, then get FL 19 in Palatka, run through Ocala National Forest, take that to Marion CR 314, then head west onto FL 40 towards I-75 in Ocala.


In more recent times I've taken various other routes.


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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2021, 11:53:22 PM »

Note there is a big construction project underway on I-10 at the US-301 interchange. Not sure what they’re doing, and it didn’t really delay us, but the temporary signage appeared to confuse a trucker who swerved at the last minute and almost caused a wreck.

This seems to be a make-work project since it has been going on for about 6 years now. One piece that did get done was a new ramp from U.S. 301 north to I-10 east, offering up an exit on the right from U.S. 301. Until that was done, there was a left turn at a short traffic light that backed up traffic for a distance (mainly trucks from the truck stops there).

Bruce in Blacksburg

Really? Because I thought that was partially in conjunction with the construction of the Baldwin Bypass.


They are two independent projects.

The 10/301 project and the 95/295 project are both similar in that they are extremely slow. I've been driving down one or twice a year for 10 years now, and am just amazed at the lack of work getting done.

As for the confused trucker, it could be because the ramp from 10 West to 301 South has changed several times, and signage appears to be getting worse with each change. For occasional users of the interchange, it's a surprise every time as to where the ramp location will be.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2021, 06:10:25 AM »

Off topic, but I can't believe that they didn't build a tollway from I-75 between Ocala and Gainesville and the southwest corner of I-295 back in the sixties or seventies. It would've been a significant shortcut between Jacksonville and both Gainesville and Ocala, and the savings in time and distance between Jacksonville and Tampa would've justified any reasonable toll.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2021, 07:13:43 AM »

Off topic, but I can't believe that they didn't build a tollway from I-75 between Ocala and Gainesville and the southwest corner of I-295 back in the sixties or seventies. It would've been a significant shortcut between Jacksonville and both Gainesville and Ocala, and the savings in time and distance between Jacksonville and Tampa would've justified any reasonable toll.

Florida wasn't nearly as populous back then.
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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2021, 07:44:16 AM »

Coming south today, our visit in Lake Asbury was postponed because our friend is moving, so I took I-10 west to US-301, then south (including Alt 301 around Starke) to FL-326 (I actually took the turn before that, 77th Street, due to a clump of slow trucks and a red light). This was a very good route; the 70-mph Starke bypass is a nice road, and overall traffic was so light that getting back on the Interstate was a bummer. Note there is a big construction project underway on I-10 at the US-301 interchange. Not sure what they’re doing, and it didn’t really delay us, but the temporary signage appeared to confuse a trucker who swerved at the last minute and almost caused a wreck.

This is my standard way between Tampa and Jacksonville on my regular trips to Delaware. Usually I am pressed for time and do not consider anything else as there is no faster route. I always take the 77th St cutoff between SR 326 and U.S. 301 too. Occassionally a semi or two will also take 77th street but its still worth it as it cuts out a signal and is slightly shorter. The guide signs for SR 326 on I-75 with no destination nor reference of U.S. 301 are annoying, as is the lack of a needed controlled access link between I-75 and U.S. 301.

The never ending construction at I-10/U.S. 301 expanded the former folded diamond interchange into a six-ramp parclo. It added c/d roadways as well, which currently are doubling as the I-10 mainline. Work started in February 2016 and will not be finished until Summer 2023. https://nflroads.com/ProjectDetails.aspx?p=5066

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Re: From the north along I-95 to Tampa Bay/ SW Florida
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2021, 04:07:51 PM »

They are two independent projects.

The 10/301 project and the 95/295 project are both similar in that they are extremely slow. I've been driving down one or twice a year for 10 years now, and am just amazed at the lack of work getting done.

Actually, I was talking about the  10/301 project and the Baldwin Bypass project being in conjunction with one another. If I'm wrong about that, so be it.

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