The drive across the Bay was not pleasant this Monday morning for commuters. Beginning at Roosevelt Boulevard in St. Petersburg, there were more than nine miles of heavy traffic that continued across the Howard Frankland Bridge and even created big problems on the Gandy Bridge.
It all began with a crash on the northbound side of the Howard Frankland that was reported around 7:30 this morning. The crash completely blocked two lanes, with the fire department and other officials rushing to the scene. Even though the accident occurred just on the northbound side, it slowed down traffic significantly southbound as well.
With that, commuters were warned by overhead highway signs that traffic was slow on the Howard Frankland and suggested taking Gandy Boulevard as an alternate route – thus causing a massive backup on Gandy within the next hour. Traffic moved at a crawl the entire length of the Gandy bridge heading East at 9 a.m. Kelly Neal of Pinellas County, one of countless commuters caught in the jam, remarked, that “I have commuted across these bridges for years and it’s never been so bad!” What usually takes a matter of minutes to cross the bridges took up to an hour for many motorists. Neal worries about how the Tampa Bay bridges and roads will handle this summer’s Republican National Convention, which will add thousands of more cars on the roadways. “I am dreading the RNC in two months,” she said.
Even with all lanes opened back up several hours later, traffic continued to be slammed on both bridges. The crash backed up the volume of traffic quickly and and it took a few hours to get back to normal. The crash reportedly caused by two other accidents on or near the Howard Franklin Bridge, including an apparently disabled semi-truck that slowed right-lane traffic on the bridge even more.
The delays seemed to have lasted longer on the Gandy Bridge than the Howard Frankland, but traffic was back to what looked like smooth going on both bridges by late morning.