Big changes are coming to the Howard Frankland (not Franklin) Bridge that might make it better for commuters.
Extra Lane From St. Pete
Back in 2020, I-275 Northbound got a new lane at the end of the bridge into Tampa. Instead of a four-lane bridge turning into two, it now turns into three with the fourth lane exiting.
If you look at old forum posts, you might see warnings that the bridge comes to a halt between 7 and 9 in the morning and 3 and 6 in the afternoon. With the new lane, it keeps moving. Maybe not as fast as an interstate should, but it moves.
The Howard Frankland (not Franklin, btw) is getting an entirely new span. The new part of the bridge will have eight lanes. There will be four regular southbound lanes and two express lanes in each direction.
The old southbound lanes will be switched north. The old northbound lanes should turn into fishing piers.
Express Lane Warning
The express lanes probably won’t be very useful. They start and stop right at both ends of the bridge.
In most places, express lanes do things like skip the downtown area for people who are just passing through. In Tampa, express lanes are just to collect tolls.
The lanes will only start where traffic lightens up and will end right where it gets worse again.
Bonus: Selmon Extension
Another new piece of construction also helps people trying to get across the bay. The Selmon Extension now lets you take the Expressway into St. Pete without stopping for all the lights on the Tampa side of Gandy Boulevard.
On the St. Pete side, Gandy is now a limited access road that’s almost as good as a highway for getting across Pinellas or back onto 275. If only they’d get rid of that pesky dog track stoplight.
If you’re leaving from or going to east of Ybor City, you can use the Selmon Connector to get off I-4 and go non-stop to the Gandy Bridge. This will skip Malfunction Junction and the Howard Frankland, but it turns a free ride into $3.28 with Sunpass.