i-4 Ultimate

March 2022

* Planning Essential to Knowing I-4 Express Entry and Exit Points
* Do You Know What Vehicles Are Allowed in I-4 Express?
* How First Responders Prepared for I-4 Express Lanes to Open
* New Maitland Pedestrian Bridge Improves Connectivity for Area Residents
* Tunnel Under SR-436 Provides New Option for Pedestrians
* Decades of Planning Led to the Innovative I-4 Ultimate of Today
* Work Zones Are a Sign to Slow Down

Planning Essential to Knowing I-4 Express Entry and Exit Points


When it opened on February 26, I-4 Express brought the first managed lanes to Central Florida.

Since it’s still a new experience for many in the area, those interested in learning about its features can visit the I-4 Express website.

The 21 miles of I-4 Express extend from just west of Kirkman Road (State Road 435) in Orange County to just east of S.R. 434 in Seminole County. The managed lanes, two in each direction, are separated from the rest of the traffic on Interstate 4 (I-4) by a concrete barrier wall with limited access points. That helps make for a smooth journey for those who need a reliable trip to a local spot and travelers who are passing through Central Florida on their way to other destinations.

Motorists have two ways to enter and exit I-4 Express – slip ramps and direct connect ramps. View or download this brochure to see a map.

Slip ramps allow drivers to enter and exit I-4 Express to and from the nontolled or general use lanes. Most slip ramps do not exit directly to or near an interchange. So, depending on your destination, you may need to exit I-4 Express before you get to your interchange. In some instances, you may need to continue past your destination and double back.

Direct connect ramps, however, will take drivers directly from I-4 Express to an interchange without having to exit onto the general use lanes first. Direct connect ramps are located at:

  • Central Parkway
  • Ivanhoe Boulevard
  • Interstate 4 to State Road 408
  • Anderson Street
  • South Street
  • Grand National Drive
  • Florida’s Turnpike

Entering the I-4 Express lanes is fast and easy. If you are driving with an approved toll transponder, look for the large sign showing the entry point. Once you pass the electronic sign, move to the left lane and look for the break in the barrier wall that separates the general use lanes from the I-4 Express lanes. Then simply merge onto I-4 Express and be prepared to drive at or near the speed limit.

Similarly, signs will advise drivers about the upcoming exit points. Once you see a sign for where you want to exit, move into the right lane and look for a break in the barrier wall on the right to merge back into the general use lanes.

Please be aware that navigational systems may not yet be up to date with the recent changes. Motorists can use the interactive map at i4express.com/plan-your-trip before getting behind the wheel to see where to enter and exit I-4 Express based on their destination. Signage along the corridor also identifies where entry and exit points are located with plenty of notice for drivers to make decisions as they drive.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reminds all road users to be mindful of the speed limit and focus attention on driving.

During emergencies, whether in the general use lanes or in I-4 Express, use the shoulders and wait for first responders. Road Rangers, who can be reached by dialing *347 (*FHP), will also be available to assist first responders as well as make minor mechanical repairs.

Before heading out, drivers can visit FL511.com or use the Florida 511 Mobile App for important I-4 traffic information and incident alerts. Once on the road, have a passenger check to avoid using a phone while behind the wheel.


Do You Know What Vehicles Are Allowed in I-4 Express?


Motorists who have driven within I-4 Express or alongside it on the nontolled lanes of Interstate 4 (I-4) likely have wondered what vehicles are permitted to use the new lanes.

I-4 Express was designed to offer motorists a transportation option that provides a reliable trip through Orlando. Managed lanes, such as I-4 Express, are highway lanes designed to address congestion. They have been successfully implemented in other areas around Florida, throughout the U.S, and around the world. Managed lanes can include reversible lanes and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in addition to express lanes.

To deliver this predictable trip on I-4 Express, some vehicles are not permitted within the tolled lanes.

Any two-axle vehicle equipped with an active, properly mounted SunPass or other Florida-accepted transponder can use I-4 Express. Vehicles with three or more axles or those towing trailers, boats or other types of vehicles are not allowed.

Pre-registered vanpools and buses are allowed to use I-4 Express for free. For more information on registering vanpools and buses, visit FDOT.gov. Since the tolled lanes are not designated as HOV lanes, there is no special rate for those vehicles.

Have more questions? Visit the I-4 Express page of frequently asked questions or contact the team.


How First Responders Prepared for I-4 Express Lanes to Open

Click on image above to view video.

Before I-4 Express opened, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) coordinated with first responder agencies along the 21-mile project corridor to conduct extensive training with emergency response personnel and to finalize emergency procedures within the managed lanes.

Check out the video to see how law enforcement and rescue workers will respond to emergencies within I-4 Express and what drivers should know if they need assistance.

Safety is a community effort. Motorists are reminded to be mindful of the speed limit and focus attention on driving and overhead signs that display I-4 Express entry and exit ramps as well as tolling information.


New Maitland Pedestrian Bridge Improves Connectivity for Area Residents


The I-4 Ultimate project has been busy building roads, repairing bridges, and reconstructing interchanges along the I-4 corridor, all to create the Ultimate experience for Central Florida drivers. The benefit of that effort is not limited to motor vehicle drivers. As part of the I-4 Ultimate project, more than 10 miles of sidewalk and 5 miles of bike lanes will be added or widened.

Pedestrian crossings will be upgraded at 12 critical junctures. One of the most impressive new pedestrian features is the new pedestrian bridge over I-4, just south of Maitland Boulevard.

The new bridge connects the neighborhoods and commercial buildings of western Maitland with downtown Maitland and residential areas on the east side. It allows bicycle commuters to reach the office buildings on Keller Road and Lake Destiny Road from the SunRail station on Orlando Avenue. This handout has a map with details on the connections the new bridge provides.

Whether users are making the bridge part of their daily commute or just using it for recreation, the expansive ramps and flat rest areas near the top of the bridge offer accessibility and convenience. The bridge is comprised of a 12-foot-wide path through a truss structure with aesthetic lighting and lettering.


Tunnel Under SR-436 Provides New Option for Pedestrians


The I-4 Ultimate project isn’t just about building roads, it’s about improving connections across Central Florida. Additionally, it provides the Ultimate experience for all types of transportation users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

The new pedestrian tunnel makes crossing State Road (S.R.) 436, one of Central Florida’s busier and wider thoroughfares, much safer and easier. Crossing at any point along its route can be an inconvenience. The process was even more difficult near the interchange with Interstate 4 (I-4). But the new tunnel just west of the interstate lets pedestrians and cyclists cross S.R. 436 safely without waiting for a traffic signal, and without bringing traffic to a standstill.

This location is particularly important as it also allows the Seminole Wekiva Trail to cross under S.R. 436. This urban trail extends 14 miles from the Orange County line to Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park along the line of the former Orange Belt Railway.

North of the pedestrian tunnel, the trail carries the distinction of being a Florida National Scenic Trail and is popular with walkers and cyclists alike for both quick trips and longer journeys. It connects to the Cross Seminole Trail in Lake Mary, completing connections to places as far as Sanford and Oviedo.

The tunnel, accessible by stairs and ramps from the sidewalk, is 12 feet wide and 10 feet tall. It will always be lit and monitored via security camera by Altamonte Springs Police Department.

There are also new sidewalks and pedestrian crossings that allow people to cross over I-4, that which were built as part of the I-4 Ultimate Project.


Decades of Planning Led to the Innovative I-4 Ultimate of Today

Comparing I-4 at Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando 1965 with I-4 Ultimate 2022 shows the transformation to improve safety and mobility with new pavement, a new interchange and four express lanes.

When Interstate 4 (I-4) opened in Orlando in 1965, few could have imagined that a modest-sized, inland community would one day be home to worldwide entertainment venues as well as burgeoning high-tech and health care industries.

But soon after opening, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) realized how important monitoring traffic counts and population patterns would be in order to anticipating transit needs, as I-4 became a vital part of the region’s growth. Through much of the next 55 years, the agency combined research, analysis, and input from the public to guide its decisions about adding lanes and interchanges.

The detailed planning-and-review process eventually led to I-4 Ultimate – a massive 21-mile makeover that involved innovative funding and an innovative road design.

Extraordinary Growth Led to an Exceptional Plan

In recent years, as the region’s population soared over 2 million, FDOT realized the need for improving the interstate was growing urgent.

However, there was little room left to expand the roadways. So, an inventive plan began to take shape to keep the region’s economic lifeline functioning.

Following a state-regulated, multi-year process that included a complicated Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study, the agency analyzed options and kept the public informed of any anticipated environmental, social and economic impacts. It also provided and received information at many public meetings and open houses.

After much review, FDOT decided upon a public-private partnership (P3) to finance and manage the massive effort. I-4 Ultimate eventually broke ground in 2015. The P3 included private capital, which meant steady funding and continuous construction. That cut the construction time by more than 10 years, less construction time meant less disruption on the busiest road in Central Florida.

Ultimately, the $2.4 billion makeover rebuilt every inch of pavement along the 21-mile stretch while also adding two express lanes in each direction, reconfiguring 15 interchanges, and building or expanding 140 bridges and overpasses.

A New Option for Central Florida Drivers

The express lanes are accessible from the six general use lanes at several points but are separated by a concrete barrier.

Known today as I-4 Express, the new managed lanes are designed to manage traffic congestion and provide reliable travel times. Drivers always have a choice of using the general use lanes or the I-4 Express. Tolls pay for future maintenance and operations, as well as paying back the earlier private loan.

Designed to meet current demands, I-4 Ultimate is also ready to support future advancements in transportation.

See next month’s newsletter for Part 3: Ready for the Future. If you missed part one, click here to revisit I-4’s history.


Work Zones Are a Sign to Slow Down


The week of April 11 is National Work Zone Awareness Week, which encourages safe driving through highway work zones.

During National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is reminding everyone of the importance of paying attention as they approach and drive through work zones so that both motorists and roadway workers remain safe. Drivers are urged to take note of reduced speed limits, eliminate distractions, and be watchful for roadway workers and their equipment. This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week theme is “Work zones are a sign to slow down.”

In 2019, 842 people were killed in 762 fatal work zone crashes, according to the most recent data available from workzonesafety.org. Of the 842 fatalities, 135 were work zone workers, and the remaining killed were pedestrians, motorists, and their passengers. These stats make it all the more important for drivers to slow down and stay focused while approaching and passing through a roadway work zone.”

Remember the following tips when driving through work zones, not just during National Work Zone Awareness Week, but every day. Maintaining a safe speed can improve driving conditions for everyone.

Adjust your Speed — Traveling 10 mph above the posted work zone speed limit only shaves less than three minutes off a 20-mile trip and carries a minimum fine of $200, plus court fees.

Don’t Tailgate — More than half of all work zone crashes are rear-end collisions. Passenger vehicles traveling at 50 mph require 300 feet of stopping distance on dry roads. A loaded tractor-trailer needs 450 feet to come to a complete stop.

Pay Attention — Traveling at the posted speed limit allows motorists more time to recognize and respond to the changes in the roadway. Work zone environments are constantly changing. Travel lanes may be different from the last time you drove through the area. Added distractions like texting and talking on the phone, eating, and drinking, or adjusting the radio and navigation system divert your attention from the primary task of driving.

When you see orange barrels, maintain a safe speed, pay attention, and put your phone away. Keep the men and women who maintain and build our roads safe, as well as you and your passengers.