Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive)


A 1.44-mile spur into Downtown St. Petersburg, Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) connects Interstate 275 with Florida 687 (4th Street South). Florida 594 and South Bay Drive follow I-175 but neither are signed along its entire length. Florida 594 continues one block east of the freeway to end at Florida 687 north (3rd Street South).

Constructed in tandem with its northern counterpart, Interstate 375 (North Bay Drive) in the late 1970s, I-175 was completed in two phases and fully opened to traffic by August 1980.1 However, the I-175 designation did not see a formal inclusion into the Interstate system until November 1982.2

Once planned to extend west and north from I-175 at its western end, the Pinellas Belt Expressway would have connected the freeway to Gulfport, Seminole, Largo, and Clearwater (via the once proposed St. Petersburg-Clearwater Expressway). The 7.4 mile freeway was budgeted in 1974 but local opposition prevented the freeway from progressing any further and was ultimately canceled by 1979. The only remnant of the Pinellas Belt Expressway is the interchange between U.S. 19 Alternate and Florida 666 in Seminole.

Until the 2002 FDOT exit renumbering plan, interchanges along I-175 east were sequentially numbered. As a result of its short distance, new exit numbers were not established and instead were removed entirely from the freeway.

In 2010, the Florida Legislature formally designated I-175 as the Dr. Edward Cole Highway. Dr. Cole was a former St. Petersburg City Council member and prominent pediatrician who was the driving force behind the expansion of the University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg campus.3

Interstate 175 east
On the transition ramp from Interstate 275 south to Interstate 175 east, the freeway will meet Martin Luther King Jr. Street (9th Street South) and 8th Street South in one-half mile. A ramp to 5th Avenue South provides access to the one-way couplets. A second ramp to 5th Avenue leads to 6th Street South in one mile. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Interchange sequence sign posted along the ramp from Interstate 275 north to Interstate 175 east. Tropicana Field is located just north of I-175 along 16th Street South. Photo taken 07/10/11.
Martin Luther King Jr. Street flows southbound only through the downtown area, but overall provides an important arterial south to Pinellas Point and north to Crescent Lake and Gateway. Use 5th Avenue east to 8th Street north to reach Tropicana Field. Photo taken 10/08/16.
The growing skyline of Downtown St. Petersburg expands along the eastern horizon of the fledgling I-175 east. Photo taken 07/10/11.
Interstate 175 crosses over 16th Street South and passes directly south of Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. Photo taken 05/27/05.
A two-lane off-ramp will depart for 5th Avenue South to Martin Luther King Jr. (9th Street South) and 8th Streets South from I-175 east. 8th & MLK Jr. Streets combine at the Campbell Park neighborhood south of 7th Avenue South. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Traveling under a pedestrian crossover I-175 reaches the off-ramp for 5th Avenue South to MLK Jr. & 8th Streets South. The freeway continues a short distance east to 4th Street South and Florida 687 north (3rd Street South). Photo taken 07/10/11.
8th Street South passes over the freeway at the ramp to 6th Street South. I-175 will come to an end prior to its merge with 5th Avenue South to Florida 687. Photo taken 10/08/16.
1,000 feet remain as Interstate 175 east spans 6th Street South near All Childrens Hospital. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) comes to an official end as it merges onto 5th Avenue South ahead of Florida 687 (4th & 3rd Streets South). Though not signed, Florida 594 east continues through to 3rd Street South. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Florida 594 east
This intersection marks the south terminus of State Road 687 south. 4th Street continues south as an undivided arterial into the Bartlett Park and Harbordale neighborhoods. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Unsigned Florida 594 continues one block from I-175 and 4th Street South to its end at junction Florida 687 north (3th Street South). SR 687 north ventures through Downtown to U.S. 92 and SR 595 (U.S. 19 Alternate) at 5th Avenue North. Continue east along 5th Avenue South to the Dali Museum and Albert Whitted Airport (SPG). Photos taken 07/10/11.
Interstate 175 west
Interstate 175 west begins its stint to I-275 from a ramp originating at the intersection of Florida 687 (4th Street South) and Delmar Terrace South in downtown St. Petersburg. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Traveling under the couplet of 8th and Martin Luther King Jr. Streets South on Interstate 175 west. There are no exits along Interstate 175 westbound, as it acts as a collector from Downtown streets bound for I-275 north and south. Photo taken 10/08/16.
The second and final on-ramp joins Interstate 175 from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South (9th Street) from near Tropicana Field. Tropicana Field rises along 5th Avenue South on the north side of South Bay Drive. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Now with four travel lanes, I-175 west passes under a pedestrian crosswalk on its approach to its terminus with Interstate 275. Two lanes each leave for I-275 north to Tampa and I-275 south to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Bradenton in Manatee County (via U.S. 19). Photo taken 10/08/16.
Passing over 16th Street South I-175 reaches its end at the ramp partition to Interstate 275 north and south. Interstate 275 north next meets Interstate 375 (North Bay Drive) while south continues to 28th Street South near Jordan Park. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Drivers continuing south along Interstate 275 merge onto the freeway mainline from the left. A half-diamond interchange follows in 0.75 miles at 28th Street South at the Palmetto Park neighborhood. Photo taken 07/30/06. Second photo taken 07/10/11.
Interstate 175 scenes
Florida 687 south reaches the two-lane ramp for Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) west at an intersection with Delmar Terrace South. The state road will end ahead at Florida 594 (5th Avenue South) east while 4th Street continues south toward Bartlett Park neighborhood. Photos taken 07/10/11.
Southbound Martin Luther King Jr. Street (9th Street South) at the ramp to westbound I-175 (South Bay Drive) near Tropicana Field. Interstate 275 is next along the 1.44-mile spur. Photo taken 08/05/14.
Vintage state-name shield assembly for Interstate 175 along MLK Jr. Street (9th Street) south adjacent to Tropicana Field. Another view of this former shield assembly can be seen at the AARoads Shield Gallery. A replacement assembly was in place by 2006. Photo taken 12/27/00. Second photo taken 08/05/14.
Interstate 175 & Florida 594 Archive
Interstate 175 & Florida 594 east
Older exit sequence sign on the ramp from I-275 south to I-175 east simply depicted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street as 9th Street South prior to its replacement. Photo taken 05/27/05.
A look at the original sign bridge posted at the 9th & 8th Street South off-ramp. Photo taken 12/27/00.
Button copy guide signs were replaced sometime after 2006 on the approach to 4th Street South along 5th Avenue South. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Interstate 175 & Florida 594 west
The only reassurance shield along I-175 west was near the approach to the 6th Street South overpass. It was removed from the freeway by 2011. Photo taken 05/27/05.

Sources:

  1. "South I-275 Feeder to Open by August", The Evening Independent, June 10, 1980.
  2. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Route Numbering Committee Meeting, November 19, 1982 (document).
  3. "The Dr. Edward Cole Highway", The Interstate 275 Florida Blog (website), October 29, 2010. (www.blog.interstate275florida.com)


Photo Credits:

2000-12-27, 2005-05-27, 2006-07-30, 2011-07-10, 2014-08-05, 2016-10-08 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 275
Florida 687 - 4th Street

Page Updated 10-08-2016.

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