Interstate 175 - South Bay Drive

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A 1.29-mile spur into Downtown St. Petersburg, Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) connects I-275 with State Road 687 (4th Street S). SR 594 underlays South Bay Drive east to 4th Street S, where it emerges one block east to SR 687 (3rd Street S) northbound. SR 594 measures 1.37 miles in length.

Named North Bay Drive and South Bay Drive by St. Petersburg City Council, the planned routes for the two spurs into Downtown St. Petersburg were reclassified as I-375 and I-175 respectively when the federal government agreed to cover 90% of the costs. Saving the state $3 million, the Florida Department of Transportation announced the redesignation of I-175 and I-375 in February 1974.1

Work on the final section of South Bay Drive began in October 1977. Scheduled for completion in January 1980, delays ensued when Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, located one block to the south, began to sink due to construction removal of peat supporting the building.2 South Bay Drive opened to traffic east from 9th Street S to 4th Street S on July 23, 1980. The 0.7 mile segment cost $5.5 million to build.3 The I-175 designation was not formally included within the Interstate system until November 1982.4

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 SR 666 at Bay Pines.

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.5

Interstate 175 East
Taking the transition ramp from Interstate 275 south to I-175 east, one half mile ahead of the ramp for Martin Luther King Jr. Street (9th Street S) and 8th Street S. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Interchange sequence sign posted along the ramp from I-275 north to Interstate 175 east. Tropicana Field is located just north of I-175 along 16th Street S. Photo taken 07/10/11.
Martin Luther King Jr. Street flows southbound between Tropicana Field and western reaches of Downtown St. Petersburg. The urban boulevard overall represents a through route south to Pinellas Point and north to Crescent Lake and Gateway. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Ramps from I-275 to South Bay Drive converge as the Downtown St. Petersburg skyline spreads along the eastern horizon. Photo taken 07/10/11.
Interstate 175 crosses over 16th Street S 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 joins parallel 5th Avenue S ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Street south and 8th Street S northbound. 8th & MLK, Jr. Streets combine at the Campbell Park neighborhood beyond 7th Avenue S. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Traveling under a pedestrian crossover I-175 reaches the off-ramp for MLK, Jr. Street S and 8th Streets S. The freeway continues a short distance east to 4th Street S and SR 687 (3rd Street S) north. Photo taken 10/08/16.
8th Street S passes over Interstate 175 at the ramp to 6th Street S. South Bay Drive merges with 5th Avenue S in a half mile at the south end of SR 687 (4th Street S). Photo taken 10/08/16.
1,000 feet of I-175 remains beyond the span across 6th Street S near Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Photo taken 10/08/16.
Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) concludes at the St. Petersburg Innovation District. SR 594 emerges from South Bay Drive along a one block section of 5th Avenue S. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Florida State Road 594 East
5th Avenue S (SR 594) intersects 4th Street S by the University of South Florida - St. Petersburg campus. 4th Street continues south as a four to five lane boulevard into the Bartlett Park and Harbordale neighborhoods. Photo taken 10/08/16.
2 photos
2 photos
The 0.80 mile section of SR 594 on 5th Avenue S links the east end of I-175 with the northbound beginning of SR 687 along 3th Street S. Photos taken 10/08/17.
Uncommon for FDOT District 7, an end shield appears for SR 594 at 5th Avenue S / 3rd Street S (SR 687). Photo taken 10/08/17.
State Road 687 runs 9.45 miles north from SR 594 to SR 694 (Gandy Boulevard) at the Gateway area of north St. Petersburg and I-275 at the Howard Frankland Bridge. Photo taken 10/08/17.
Interstate 175 West
Interstate 175 west begins its 1.29 mile course to I-275 from ramps originating at the intersection of SR 687 (4th Street S) at Delmar Terrace S in Downtown St. Petersburg. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Removed by 2011, the lone reassurance shield along I-175 west was posted ahead of the 6th Street S overpass. Photo taken 05/27/05.
I-175 drops below grade and passes under the couplet of 8th and Martin Luther King Jr. Streets S. There are no exits along Interstate 175 westbound, as it acts as a collector from Downtown area streets to I-275. Photo taken 10/08/16.
The second and final entrance ramp joins Interstate 175 from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street S (9th Street) near Tropicana Field. Tropicana Field rises along the east side of 16th Street S adjacent to South Bay Drive. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Expanding to four lanes, I-175 west passes under a pedestrian bridge leading into the three-wye interchange with Interstate 275. Photo taken 10/08/16.
I-175 partitions above 16th Street S into two lane ramps for I-275 north adjacent I-375 (North Bay Drive) and Tampa and south to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Bradenton (via U.S. 19) in Manatee County. Photo taken 10/08/16.
The ramp for I-275 south merges onto the left side of the freeway, 0.75 miles ahead of a half diamond interchange with 28th Street S at the Palmetto Park neighborhood. Photo taken 10/08/16.
Interstate 175 scenes
SR 687 (4th Street S) runs through Downtown St. Petersburg between U.S. 92 and U.S. 19 Alternate (5th Avenue N) and Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) at the St. Petersburg Innovation District. Photo taken 10/08/17.
The entrance ramp for I-175 westbound from 4th Street S was expanded in 2017 to include access from 4th Street S northbound. 4th Street S extends beyond the end of SR 687 at SR 594 (5th Avenue S) toward the Bartlett Park neighborhood. Photo taken 10/08/17.
Approaching Interstate 175 and SR 594 (5th Avenue S) on 4th Street S northbound by the University of South Florida (USF) - St. Petersburg. Photo taken 10/08/17.
SR 594 extends east from I-175 and 4th Street S to 3rd Street S (SR 687) north into Downtown and Dali Boulevard east to Mahaffey Theater, the Salvador Dali Museum and Albert Whitted Airport (SPG). Photo taken 10/08/17.
2 photos
2 photos
The ramp from 4th Avenue S northbound to Interstate 175 opened to traffic in 2017. Photos taken 10/08/17.
Vintage state-name shield for Interstate 175 formerly posted along Martin Luther King, Jr. Street S adjacent to Tropicana Field. This assembly was replaced by 2006. Photo taken 12/27/00.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Street S (9th Street) south at 4th Avenue S west to Tropicana Field and the entrance ramp for Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) westbound. Photo taken 08/05/14.
Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) leads west from Martin Luther King, Jr. Street S to the exchange with I-275 nearby. Photo taken 08/05/14.

Sources:
  1. "Renaming 2 Highways Will Save $3-Million." St. Petersburg Times (FL), February 17, 1974.
  2. "Downtown link to interstate near finish." St. Petersburg Times (FL), June 13, 1980.
  3. "I-275 south feeder is open downtown." St. Petersburg Times (FL), July 24, 1980.
  4. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Route Numbering Committee Meeting, November 19, 1982 (document).
  5. "The Dr. Edward Cole Highway", The Interstate 275 Florida Blog (website), October 29, 2010. (www.blog.interstate275florida.com)


Photo Credits:

12/27/00, 05/27/05, 07/30/06, 07/10/11, 08/05/14, 10/08/16, 10/08/17 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 275
State Road 687 - 4th Street

Page Updated 05-16-2019.