I-4, a 52 year old highway, was not built to handle the amount of traffic it currently must. The highway was initially constructed with a capacity of 80,000 cars and trucks per day. As Orlando Magazine states, I-4 now sees about 200,000 different vehicles on a typical weekday. The project “I-4 Ultimate” is set to cost $2.3 billion while doubling the width of the highway in the metro Orlando area and adding a toll lane. FDOT officials claim that after toll lanes replaced carpool lanes on I-95 in South Florida, average speeds during rush hour went up 20-30 mph. However, these modifications come at a cost. Heavy traffic, closed or altered exits, narrow and shifted lanes along with increased accident rates have accompanied the construction. The project is supposed to be completed by 2021.
Increased Accident Statistics
According the Orlando Sentinel, the chances of crashing on I-4 have increased by 12 percent, while fatalities and injuries rates have also jumped.
SGL constructors, the company responsible for the I-4 Ultimate Construction phase, states that the average speed at which cars drive through downtown Orlando is 60-80 mph, 10-30mph higher than the posted limit of 50 mph.
To address dangers, SGL has as many as 12 ‘Road Rangers’ deployed to move obstacles that may be clogging traffic from the road.
State data shows that the type of accident that has increased the most is sideswipes which increased by about 33%. Crashes involving front to rear collisions and cars colliding at an angle also both rose by 10%.
- Width of lanes shortened from 12 to 11 feet in order to accommodate demands of construction resulting in sideswipes.
- Shifted lanes and altered exits result in familiar stretches of highway becoming unfamiliar to many drivers.
- Improper lane changes resulting in front to rear collisions.
- Increased congestion heightens chances of human error, such as a distracted driving or speeding, leading to a collision.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much will the tolls on I-4 cost? A toll schedule has not yet been set for Orlando, but judging by toll prices on I-95, over $1 a mile during times of high traffic can be expected. “Dynamic toll pricing” will be utilized, in other words, when traffic is higher tolls will be too.
- Who will be allowed to use Express Lanes? At this time, no heavy trucks or trailers (no matter what vehicle is towing it) will be allowed in Express Lanes. Discussions are still ongoing as to the type of trucks that will be allowed based on the number of axels and weight. All buses will be allowed, however, with public transit and school buses exempt from paying a toll.
- Will the speed limit be increased after construction is finished? Yes, but only slightly from 50 to 55mph.
- When will lane closures occur? The construction team aims to maintain the same number of open lanes that exist today during major travel times with lane closures limited to nighttime, between 8:30pm and 7am.
- Will I be notified of lane and ramp closures ahead of time? Yes, 28 days notice is required for full ramp and road closures as well as long-term closures lasting more than 24 hours. 14 days notice is required for non-long term closures on I-4.
- After “I-4 Ultimate,” are there further plans for I-4 construction in metro Orlando? No, at least not in most of our lifetimes. The enhanced interstate simply will not leave room for further expansion. Although, projects targeting other parts of the interstate are in the planning stage. Future construction can be expected in Seminole, Volusia and Polk counties.
- How much of the interstate is being affected by “I-4 Ultimate”? 21 miles of highway stretching from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of SR 434 in Seminole County.
- What are some other options for commuters during construction? The SunRail train system, Lynx buses and ReThink (a state-sponsored ride sharing service) all provide Central Florida citizens with alternative options for commuting.
What to do if involved in an auto-accident on I-4? After contacting the appropriate emergency services, call attorney Frank Eidson at 407-315-2764 (toll free: 888-245-2855) for a free case review or visit his office at 327 N. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL, 32801. You can also email Frank personally at email@example.com