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April 2017

Traffic Shifts in Downtown Orlando Scheduled in April–May

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The downtown Orlando construction area of the I-4 Ultimate project reaches milestone this month when traffic on eastbound and westbound Interstate 4 (I-4) shift to newly constructed bridges.

A traffic shift of westbound I-4 between Colonial Drive (State Road 50) and South Street is scheduled to occur overnight on April 20. The traffic shift will move the westbound I-4 traffic approximately 11 feet to the inside onto newly constructed, temporary bridges between eastbound and westbound I-4. View illustration of the westbound I-4 traffic shift.

During the traffic shift operation on the night of April 20 and morning of April 21, motorists should expect multiple lane and ramp closures. The westbound I-4 entrance ramps from Ivanhoe Boulevard and Amelia Street will be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. View detour routes. In addition, the collector-distributor road adjacent to westbound I-4 between Ivanhoe Boulevard and Colonial Drive will be closed as will multiple lanes on westbound I-4. Lane closures may begin as soon as 8 p.m. on April 20.

A traffic shift of eastbound I-4 between South Street and Colonial Drive is scheduled to occur overnight on in early May. The traffic shift will move three lanes of eastbound I-4 traffic onto newly constructed, temporary bridges between eastbound and westbound I-4.

During the traffic shift operation, motorists should expect multiple lane and ramp closures. The eastbound I-4 entrance ramps from westbound State Road 408 and Anderson Street, and the exit ramp to Amelia Street will be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Due to the complexity of the traffic shift operation, motorists should be aware of changing lane closures throughout the evening. Lane closures may begin as soon as 8 p.m. Exact dates of traffic shift and closures will be available on

The new temporary bridges were constructed because of the lack of right-of-way space in the tight quarters of downtown Orlando. By moving I-4 traffic onto the temporary bridges, it gives I-4 Ultimate construction crews the opportunity to begin demolishing the existing eastbound I-4 bridges and constructing new bridges.

Modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving through the work zone.

Tall Pylon near Lake Ivanhoe Serves Two Purposes

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A tall concrete pylon on Interstate (I-4) near Lake Ivanhoe is the first of several to be built along the 21-mile stretch of the I-4 Ultimate Project.

The pylons serve both practical and decorative functions on the corridor being rebuilt and expanded in a public-private partnership managed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

On the practical side, the towering posts mark points where motorists can directly connect to Express Lanes from other roadways without entering the general use lanes first. On the decorative side, the 90-foot-tall structures will be shaped in a distinctive way and lit at night to help create a signature corridor.

This first pylon was constructed early in the project so crews wouldn’t have to build it surrounded by new bridges and ramps. Two other tall pylons will be erected later by Grand National Drive in south Orlando, and two more will go up at Central Parkway in Altamonte Springs. Other smaller decorative pylons will be placed throughout the corridor, adding to the project's aesthetics.

When completed in 2021, the I-4 Ultimate Project will continue to have six non-tolled general use lanes (three in each direction) plus additional auxiliary lanes. The four dynamically tolled Express Lanes (two in each direction) will be priced to maintain 50 mph, according to traffic conditions.

I-4 Ultimate Chronicles Second Year of Progress

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Looking back at 2016, the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project team has the satisfaction in knowing that Central Florida motorists are getting closer to an improved Interstate 4 (I-4).

The project team has made significant progress in the past year. The 2016 Year in Review summarizes the major accomplishments from the project’s first full year of construction.

Already big changes are happening that benefit motorists, as a growing workforce continues building lanes, bridges and intersections. The $2.3 billion public-private partnership, overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), remains committed to improving safety and mobility on this vital highway in this fast-growing region.

Since the ceremonial groundbreaking in February 2015, the project has moved toward the anticipated need of 2,000 jobs, including 250 on-the-job trainees.

The I-4 Ultimate project is positively impacting the greater Central Florida community. The 2016 Year in Review highlights high-school student field trips to the I-4 Ultimate office to learn from FDOT bridge engineers, maintenance of traffic managers and other I-4 Ultimate staff.

Check out the 2016 Year in Review for detailed construction updates, feature stories and other project insights.

The Big Machines of I-4 Ultimate: The Attenuator Truck

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Safety Features: Large, retractable shock absorber to protect workers, occupants and other drivers in the event of a rear-end collision.

Tasks: Placing and removing traffic cones while transporting and protecting workers.

Holds: 500 traffic cones, enough to cover more than 4 linear miles of pavement with normal spacing.

The large, retractable shock absorber mounted on the back of traffic-maintenance trucks comes from a product line called Scorpion. However, unlike the frightening, venomous insect, this scorpion can extend 13 feet, weigh nearly 2,000 pounds and save lives.

The big yellow, collapsible device also is known as an attenuator because of its remarkable ability to absorb rear-end crashes from vehicles approaching at more than 60 mph. In other locales, the shock absorber has successfully defended against the crash of a tractor-trailer when that driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Despite the weight of the tractor-trailer (65,000 pounds) and its speed (70 mph), occupants in both vehicles walked away with only very minor injuries, according to the manufacturer’s statements. Fortunately, the attenuator trucks used by the I-4 Ultimate team have not had to be put that test. But SGL – the construction joint venture of Skanska, Granite and Lane – purchased seven of the vehicles to protect workers and motorists.

SGL ordered the trucks with a special combination of safety features. David Feise, the project’s Maintenance of Traffic Manager, and Steve Matthews, the project’s Deputy Equipment Manager, combined their knowledge of what was needed for I-4 Ultimate work and what was available on the market to help design the safety package.

The truck has special platforms so that workers can place traffic cones in a safe manner while the truck is moving and later remove them. For added protection, the cab of the truck includes camera monitors so the driver can see workers in the back of the truck without turning around. An intercom system allows those in the front and those riding in the back to communicate easily in heavy traffic and construction areas.

In addition, a flashing arrow sign can be raised and lowered from the truck to alert approaching drivers that they need to keep to one side.

Spotlight Employee: Joe Thrower

Joe Thrower
Maintenance of Traffic Superintendent II
Resides: St. Cloud

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“I grew up here.”

For Joe Thrower, getting things right on the I-4 Ultimate project is personal.

The Maintenance of Traffic Coordinator often thinks about relatives and neighbors while helping to plan and carry out lane shifts and ramp closures on Interstate 4 (I-4).

“I grew up here,” Thrower said. “I know how difficult I-4 can be to travel. I have a lot of friends and family who drive it.”

It’s his job to help make sure that electronic message signs, striping, pavement reflectors, temporary barrier walls and other changes are done just right so construction can proceed safely off to the side while traffic flows smoothly past.

Though urging caution for everyone near a work zone, Thrower often puts himself in the role of a driver – those friends and family he worries about – when considering how temporary changes may look from a motorist’s point of view.

Thrower brings nearly three decades of road construction experience to the job, including more than 20 with the Osceola County road and bridge department. “I started out pushing a shovel for them and eventually became a senior roadway inspector.” He joined the I-4 Ultimate project for the challenge and now works for SGL – the construction joint venture of Skanska, Granite and Lane.

Thrower has found that some of the smaller, temporary changes – lanes that jog a few feet to the left or right – can be the most complex. They often have many moving parts inside a small space on a tight deadline. That may mean several trucks operating nearby while crews work overnight to have lane shifts ready before the morning rush.

“A project of this size is a major challenge,” Thrower said. “But it’s a challenge I look forward to doing every day.”

Having spent most of his life in St. Cloud, Thrower is proud to be part of a project to make I-4 safer and more efficient for motorists, family and friends. “It’s good to know we’ll have the road ready for their future. I love that.”

Public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status. Persons who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Jennifer Smith, FDOT Title VI Coordinator by phone at (386) 943-5367, or via email at If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact us by using the Florida Relay Service, 1-800-955-8771 (TDD) or 1-800-955-8770 (Voice).