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Malfunction Junction may get tougher to navigate

Night ramp closures from northbound I-275 to I-4 are scheduled.

By BRADY DENNIS
Published July 26, 2003

TAMPA - If you're planning on cruising through Malfunction Junction late at night next week, beware. The intersection of Interstate 275 and Interstate 4 will be even more of a mess than usual.

The ramp connecting northbound I-275 to eastbound I-4 will be closed Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Officials said the closure is necessary so crews building a new interchange can install steel beams that will extend over the ramp.

"It's a necessary evil," said John McShaffrey, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. "It's safe to say you're going to have at least an extra 15 minutes going through that area."

Drivers headed north on I-275 can still connect to I-4 by continuing past I-4 and exiting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, then heading back south on I-275 to connect to eastbound I-4.

McShaffrey said the detour will be well marked, and police officers will help control the traffic flow.

Meanwhile, local traffic on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard must go north to Hillsborough Avenue to enter the highway, he said.

McShaffrey knows the detour will cause a few headaches, but he said closing the road in daytime would cause many more.

"If we tried this during the day, we'd back up traffic for miles and miles," he said.

The bridge construction is part of a massive $80-million reconfiguration of Malfunction Junction.

The project is scheduled for completion in early 2006.

McShaffrey said that while officials have tried to make the detour as painless as possible, the best thing late-night cruisers can do is drive somewhere else.

[Last modified July 26, 2003, 02:18:07]


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