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Interstate 175 - South Bay Drive

Interstate 175 is a short spur from Interstate 275 into downtown St. Petersburg near Tropicana Field. It sometimes referred to as "South Bay Drive" on overhead signs and maps, but people seldom call it that. Built between 1977 and 1980, Interstate 175 was completed and opened on April 23, 1980, costing $5.5 million to build (which was an expensive freeway in its day). Contrary to the 2005 Rand McNally Road Atlas, the entire route is a freeway, not a surface boulevard.

A freeway called the Pinellas Belt Expressway would have extended west from Interstate 175's western terminus, paralleling Florida 595 and Alternate U.S. 19 through or near Gulfport, Bay Pines, Seminole, Largo, and Clearwater. This freeway would have culminated at the proposed yet unconstructed St. Petersburg-Clearwater Expressway (which was proposed as an Interstate highway, but was not construct because the proposed expressway did not meet the required criteria for receiving federal funding in the late 1970s) in Clearwater. An interchange at Alternate U.S. 19 and Florida 666 is the only tangible remnant of this freeway proposal in the field. Community opposition stopped the Pinellas Belt Expressway from being constructed; it was budgeted in 1974 and was dead by 1979.

NOTE: Interstate 175's interchanges are unnumbered. The 2002 exit renumbering plan implemented by FDOT resulted in the removal of the sequential based system for the freeway.

Interstate 175 East
The first exit along short Interstate 175 eastbound is Exit 1, Eighth Street South and Ninth Street South, a one-way street couplet. This off-ramp actually connects with Fifth Avenue South, which acts as a frontage road along the southern edge of the freeway. The first intersection after the off-ramp joins Fifth Avenue South is Ninth Street South/Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, followed by Eighth Street South. Use Eighth Street South northbound to reach Tropicana Field. Photo taken 05/27/05.
Upcoming exits sign posted along the transition ramp from Interstate 275 north to Interstate 175 east. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Posted along the Interstate 175 eastbound beginning from Interstate 275 north is this guide sign touting the first off-ramp to Martin Luther King Jr. Street. 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. Photo taken 07/30/06.
The growing skyline of downtown St. Petersburg expands along the eastern horizon of the fledgling Interstate 175 east. Photo taken 07/30/06.
A two-lane off-ramp departs for 5th Avenue South to 8th and 9th Streets South from Interstate 175 east. 8th & 9th Streets combine at the Campbell Park neighborhood south of 7th Avenue South. Photo taken 07/30/06.
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 look at the original sign bridge posted at the 9th & 8th Street South off-ramp. Photo taken 12/27/00.
Eastbound Interstate 175 reaches Exit 1, Eighth Street South and Ninth Street South (Martin Luther King, Jr. Street). The freeway only continues a short distance ahead before terminating. But believe it or not, Interstate 175 is longer than Interstate 375, its neighbor to the north. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Immediately thereafter, eastbound Interstate 175 reaches Exit 2, Sixth Street South. This is the final traditional exit along eastbound Interstate 175. The freeway ends in 2,000 feet, and it will merge onto eastbound Fifth Avenue South prior to reaching Florida 687 and the one-way couplet of Fourth Street South and Third Street South. Photo taken 07/30/06.
After Exit 2, 6th Street South, eastbound Interstate 175 already prepares to end. This sign advises that the freeway will end 1,000 feet ahead, where the eastbound lanes merge onto eastbound Fifth Avenue South just prior to the Florida 687/Fourth Street South intersection. The second photo shows the previously installed end sign. Photo taken 07/30/06 & 12/27/00.
Eastbound Interstate 175 merges onto eastbound Fifth Avenue, and the freeway officially ends here. The Florida 687/4th Street South traffic signal and intersection is visible in the distance. Photos taken 07/30/06.
Florida 594 East
Button copy guide signs direct motorists eastward along 5th Avenue South through the intersection with 4th Street South. Florida 687 south ends here, with northbound beginning one block ahead via 3rd Street South. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Unsigned Florida 594 continues one block from the Interstate 175 freeway end to its end at junction Florida 687 north (3rd Street South). Florida 687 ventures north through downtown to junction U.S. 92 and Florida 595 at 5th Avenue North. Photo taken 05/27/05.
Interstate 175 West
Interstate 175 begins its westbound journey from a ramp originating at the intersection of Florida 687/Fourth Street South and Delmar Terrace South in downtown St. Petersburg. Photo taken 05/27/05.
Quickly widening to two through lanes, there is one reassurance shield for Interstate 175 (barely visible above the sound wall). By 2006, the lone reassurance shield had turned 180 degrees. Photos taken 12/27/00 & 05/27/05.
Traveling under the couplet of 8th and 9th Streets South on Interstate 175 west. There are no exits from Interstate 175 westbound; while the eastbound direction acts as a distributor to various downtown streets, westbound acts as a collector from those same downtown streets onto Interstate 275. Interstate 175 gathers more lanes until it has four through lanes by the time it reaches Interstate 275. Photo taken 05/27/05.
The third 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.
Westbound Interstate 175/South Bay Drive approaches its western terminus at Interstate 275. The right two lanes head north on Interstate 275 toward Tampa, while the left two lanes aim south on Interstate 275 toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Bradenton in Manatee County (via U.S. 19) and Sarasota (via southbound Interstate 75). Photo taken 07/30/06.
Interstate 175 draws to a short close 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 07/30/06.
Now on the transition from westbound Interstate 175 onto southbound Interstate 275, this photo shows the freeway-grade ramp between the two Interstate highways west of downtown St. Petersburg. Unlike Interstate 375, there were plans to extend Interstate 175 west as a part of the Pinellas Belt Expressway. Photo taken 07/30/06.
Drivers continuing south along Interstate 275 merge onto the freeway mainline from the left. A half-diamond interchange exists 0.75 miles southward at 28th Street South at the Palmetto Park neighborhood.
Other Interstate 175 Pictures
Northbound Florida 687 at Junction Interstate 175. Note these signs point to "SOUTH" Interstate 175 and "NORTH" Interstate 375, which is likely written that way for travelers who plan to use Interstate 275, the terminus for both routes. Photos taken 12/27/00.
This Interstate 175 shield was placed by the city of St. Petersburg. This shield has a white background and is located on Fourth Avenue South at the intersection with Florida 687/Fourth Street South southbound. There are also examples of Interstate 275 and 375 shields with white backgrounds in this area. Photo taken 12/27/00.

This old, state-name shield probably dates to when the Interstate 175 freeway was constructed in the late 1970s. It is located along on southbound Martin Luther King, Jr. Street/Ninth Street adjacent to Tropicana Field prior to the interchange with Interstate 175 (since the sign faces north, the backlighting of the sign made for a dark picture due to the low sun angle of this time of year). This shield is unique in that it is the only Interstate 175 shield remaining in the field with the state name of Florida still located within the shield. To see another picture of the same shield, see Jeff Royston's Picture of Interstate 175 Florida Shield. Photo taken 12/27/00.
This Interstate 175 trailblazer shield is located on northbound Florida 687/Third Street at the intersection with Fifth Avenue westbound. Photo taken 12/27/00.

Page Updated June 30, 2008.