WILDWOOD, Fla. — With images showing massive lines at gas stations and bumper-to-bumper traffic on Florida’s interstates, many people who would like to leave town have concerns about getting stuck on the road or running out of fuel before getting to their destination.
All day Thursday, 10News had crews on the roads, scouting out road conditions and the availability of gasoline on Bay area roadways.
Reporter Beau Zimmer departed Pinellas Park just after 5 p.m. Thursday on an evacuation route taking him north across the Bayside Bridge up to State Road 54 and onto the Suncoast Parkway.
As of Thursday evening, there were virtually no delays, light traffic and the availability of gasoline all along the route was good.
The state has also suspended all tolls, making the trip on the Suncoast Parkway free.
From there we cut across to I-75 where we experienced heavier than normal traffic but still moving the speed limit.
It wasn’t until about 5 miles before the Florida Turnpike junction in Wildwood, where traffic finally came to a crawl with South Florida evacuees merging onto I-75.
We got off I-75 at exit 329, where we found gas stations open with gas still available, but long wait lines. Florida state troopers were directing traffic, attempting to help drivers get in and out.
We cut back west to U.S. 19, where we also found heavy traffic heading north beginning around U.S. 98 in Homosassa, where cars were exiting the end of the Suncoast Parkway.
Many gas stations along U.S.19 were either completely closed or had long lines for fuel. There was gas available on U.S. 19 but availability is spotty.
Further up I-75, we’re hearing about more severe gas shortages north of Gainesville so don’t wait to fill up.
State troopers also started opening an extra lane of traffic on the interstate’s shoulder in the northbound direction.