Exit 32: FL 687/4th Street North

Overpass and bridges across Big Island Gap under reconstruction - anticipated completion summer 2024 per Florida DOT:
Gateway Expressway and 4 St N Bridge Replacement

Constructed in 1960 as part of the Howard Frankland Bridge project, 4 St N takes travelers to the Derby Lane dog track (via Gandy Blvd.), passes through the 4 St N business district (a linear business district between Gandy Blvd. and downtown St. Petersburg) and provides an alternative route to downtown St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field. However, 4 St N can get backed up during rush hour (and not to mention the series of traffic lights). Due to the great distance between Exit 32 and downtown St. Petersburg, although 4 St N (and its parallel partner at Exit 31, Martin Luther King St N) may be a more direct route when you see it on a map, I believe using Interstate 275 south is a more viable choice as it gets you to downtown St. Petersburg quicker.

Big Island is a natural island situated in Tampa Bay just off the far northeast St. Petersburg coastline and mainly consists of mangroves that meet the water. The east end of Big Island transitions from a natural island to a dredged causeway constructed as part of the Howard Frankland Bridge in 1959. At the southern end of Big Island is the exit for 4 St N (FL 687), Exit 32. The two small bridges that carry 4 St N (as well as Interstate 275 immediately south of 4 St N) cross a body of water called Big Island Gap.

Being a Florida DOT owned and maintained road, 4 St N carries the FL 687 designation for its entire length from Exit 32 to downtown St. Petersburg, ending at the ramp entrance to westbound Interstate 175 and the intersection of 5 Av S. 4 St N also carries the US 92 designation and is multiplexed starting at Gandy Blvd. and ending at 5 Av N. The intersection of 4 St N and 5 Av N is also the national and Florida terminus of US 92, a cross Florida highway that parallels Interstates 275 and 4 (as well as the predecessor to Interstate 4) from St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. South of 5 Av S, 4 St S transitions from Florida DOT to City of St. Petersburg ownership and maintenance.

The original flyover that carries the southbound lanes of 4th Street North over the Interstate 275 mainline was built in 1959 and 1960, together with a set of bridges crossing Big Island Gap for northbound and southbound 4th Street North traffic. The bridges on 4th Street North crossing Big Island Gap still remain today; however, the flyover bridge was reconstructed in 1995 as part of an Interstate 275 widening project from its original four lanes to the eight lanes that it is today.

Unfortunately, the overpass that was replaced in 1995 was torn down in February 2021 and is being replaced with a wider overpass. This is necessary so that Interstate 275 inm this area can be widened once more to accommodate express lanes which are being constructed as part of the Gateway Expressway project. These express lanes will enable traffic to bypass congestion from the Howard Frankland Bridge to south of Roosevelt Blvd. for a toll. Tolls for the express lanes will be collected utilizing the Florida DOT's SunPass toll collection system. Additionally, the twin bridges that carry 4 St N over Big Island Gap - built in 1959 as part of the original Howard Frankland Bridge - are being reconstructed. The overpass for 4 St N as well as the twin bridges over Big Island Gap are supposed to be completed by the summer of 2024 per the Florida DOT's Gateway Expressway and 4 St N Bridge Reconstruction project websites.

4th Street Trivia

Did you know that in 4th Street's early heydays, it was owned and maintained by the Florida DOT being a part of FL 687 all the way to the terminus of 4 St S at Pinellas Point Dr S; FL 687 continued west on Pinellas Point Dr S to its terminus with US 19 (34 St S)? Probably right around when the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge was opened in 1954, US 19 as we know it today as 34th Street was not connected to the rest of US 19 as of yet. FL 687 provided a state road connection from downtown St. Petersburg via 4 St S and Pinellas Point Dr S to US 19 and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Today the section of 4 St S south of 5 Av S is under the ownership and maintenance of the City of St. Petersburg thanks to a transfer of jurisdictional responsibility of this section in the 1970's. With Interstate 275 being extended through St. Petersburg and being linked up with the 1987 Sunshine Skyway Bridge, I presume there was no need for the Florida DOT to maintain a section of 4th Street and for practically economical purposes the City of St. Petersburg can maintain that section.

In downtown St. Petersburg from 5 Av N to 5 Av S, FL 687 uses 4th Street for southbound traffic and 3rd Street to the east for northbound traffic. A small part of 5 Av S which connects the two streets is under Florida DOT jurisdiction, that small part is known as FL 594 and it runs as a one way street headed east for only one block. In 2008 the downtown St. Petersburg section of FL 687 received a paving, signing and signalization upgrade including mast arm traffic signals; what you may know is that although FL 687 is Florida DOT owned and maintained, construction of the needed upgrades was performed by the City of St. Petersburg Engineering & Capital Improvements Department under an agreement between the Florida DOT and the City of St. Petersburg known as a Local Agency Program (LAP) project, which allows the City to bid and administer the project like if the Florida DOT did it themselves, resulting in a cost savings.

Coverage of Interstate 275 as it crosses the Howard Frankland Bridge can be found on our Howard Frankland Bridge page.

Interstate 275 Southbound at Exit 32

Interstate 275 Northbound at Exit 32

Perspective of Interstate 275 at Exit 32

Reconstruction of the 4 St N Overpass at Exit 32