i-4 Ultimate

April 2022

* What Transponders Are Accepted on I-4 Express?
* Then and Now: An Updated Drive Through the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project
* Auxiliary Lanes Improve Traffic Flow on I-4
* I-4 Will Keep Making History into the Future
* National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

What Transponders Are Accepted on I-4 Express?


To use I-4 Express, drivers must have a Florida-accepted transponder mounted on their windshield.

The transponders allow motorists to use the managed lanes without stopping at a toll booth. When a vehicle passes under certain gantries, the electronic tolling system recognizes the transponder. That allows the system to charge the user’s prepaid account.

By way of an imperfect analogy, it’s like what happens when a can of soup passes over the grocery store scanner. The scanner reads the bar code and assesses a charge.

SunPass, the official transponder of I-4 Express, comes in two sizes. The SunPass Mini looks like a small card that attaches to the inside of your car’s windshield and cannot be moved from one vehicle to another. The larger SunPass Portable and SunPass PRO are mounted to the windshield by suction cups and can be easily removed. For more details, click here.

The goal of I-4 Express is to provide a reliable travel option to those who drive on Interstate 4 frequently or when they visit the area. One way the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) can deliver a more predictable trip is through electronic tolling.

All tolls on I-4 Express are collected electronically so motorists do not have to stop to pay when passing through a gantry. There is no TOLL-BY-PLATE or cash option, so motorists must have a transponder to use I-4 Express. A $25 toll violation plus the cost of tolls will be imposed on drivers who don’t have an Florida-accepted transponder.

In addition to SunPass, several interoperable transponders are accepted: E-PASS, E-ZPass, LeeWay, NC Quick Pass, and Peach Pass.

Visitors without transponders have the option to use a Visitor Toll Pass. Visit visitortollpass.com/ for more information.


Then and Now: An Updated Drive Through the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project

Click on image above to view video.
Click on image above to view video.

Get a first-person perspective of improvements on Interstate 4 (I-4) as if you’re in the driver’s seat. Take a drive through the entire 21-mile I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project – both eastbound and westbound – and see the improvements along the way. Each video has a split view: The top shows how I-4 looks as of spring 2022, and the bottom shows how the roadway appeared in 2014 before construction.

The I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project has reached substantial completion. The general use lanes, interchanges, pedestrian features, and ramps along the 21-mile stretch from west of Kirkman Road (State Road 435) in Orange County to east of S.R. 434 in Seminole County are on full display. Viewers can see the transportation upgrades by watching these videos: eastbound drive and westbound drive.

In the videos, you can see signs for the new I-4 Express lanes. These managed lanes (two in each direction) are in the center of I-4, spanning all 21 miles of I-4 Ultimate. For more information about the express lanes or to plan your trip, please visit i4express.com/.

While watching, also keep an eye out for the following major improvements: a reconfigured Kirkman Road interchange and new pedestrian bridge, a new Grand National Drive overpass, a redesigned Maitland Boulevard interchange, flyover ramps between I-4 and S.R. 408, and Michigan Street and Kaley Avenue interchanges combined into a safer interchange.


Auxiliary Lanes Improve Traffic Flow on I-4


The I-4 Ultimate project has made it easier than ever before to enter and exit the interstate. Interchanges have been reconstructed to shorten time waiting for lights, on ramps have been lengthened to increase capacity, and exits have been moved from the left to the right to reduce weaving. In many places, auxiliary lanes have been added between exits.

Auxiliary lanes make I-4 easier to use by allowing drivers taking shorter trips to avoid merging with the other vehicles, especially if they just want to enter the highway and drive to the next exit. This also helps other drivers on the highway because it reduces the number of vehicles weaving in and out of the rightmost travel lane. The auxiliary lanes also allow entering drivers who are continuing further on the interstate more time to merge safely into through lanes.

How do you use them? For example, if you are taking I-4 eastbound from Lee Road, you enter the on ramp in the usual manner, and then stay in that rightmost lane. You will notice the lane markings on your left are composed of shorter, more frequent white dashes. This indicates an auxiliary lane and distinguishes it from the through lanes. Stay in the auxiliary lane and exit at Maitland Boulevard without having to merge even once.

The I-4 Ultimate project has added auxiliary lanes where it was possible along the 21-mile stretch of highway. In other places, existing auxiliary lanes were lengthened to form complete connections. Check the map to see where auxiliary lanes can be found throughout the corridor.


I-4 Will Keep Making History into the Future


The I-4 Ultimate project is not just a major improvement for the present, it’s also a dependable pathway to the future.

With 21 miles of new pavement, four new express lanes, 15 reconfigured interchanges and 140 bridges and ramps now completed, the massive I-4 Ultimate project has improved safety and mobility on the busiest road in Central Florida.

Improving mobility while adding to traffic capacity creates more connectivity between vibrant communities along the Interstate 4 (I-4) corridor. That’s essential to an area already known for growth that tends to spread in many directions.

To help manage the traffic that grows along with the population, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided a new option for more reliable travel times via I-4 Express. Having that option may prove significant very soon. The tourism and convention industry shows signs of increasing again. Before long, the region may once again reach pre-pandemic levels when it attracted more than 75 million visitors per year.

Modernization Continues

While I-4 Ultimate boasts the necessary communications infrastructure to support automated and connected vehicles in the future, the more traditional types of improvements are far from over.

For instance, another program, which includes projects that extend 20 miles beyond the east and west ends of I-4 Ultimate, will bring significant changes to several interchanges, including Sand Lake Road (State Road 482), Daryl Carter Parkway, and the ChampionsGate area at the Osceola-Polk county line.

Known as the I-4 Beyond the Ultimate program, it has already resurfaced lanes and reconstructed the E.E. Williamson Road bridge over Interstate 4 (I-4) in Seminole County.

Reconnecting Older Neighborhoods

The recently completed work at I-4 and S.R. 408 allows for what many in the area had long hoped for: The reuniting of neighborhoods that were divided by the original construction of I-4 in Orlando in the mid-1960s.

But the careful rebuilding and rearranging of support pillars for the interchange and ramps in downtown Orlando opened a wide expanse under the elevated interchange. The city of Orlando even is planning a recreation and entertainment area below known as the Under-i project.

That new open expanse and the plan for attracting new businesses and recreational activities under I-4 also may help stimulate minority neighborhoods to grow back together.


National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on roads. Distracted driving occurs when motorists do not give their full attention to driving. Distractions are not limited to cell phone usage but encompass any distraction that disrupts a motorist’s vision, full attention, or ability to keep their hands on the steering wheel.

In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people – a 10% increase from 2018. Young drivers seem more prone to using their phones while driving. According to NHTSA research from 2017, drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007. But make no mistake: It isn’t just young people who are driving distracted; drivers in other age groups don’t lag far behind. Common examples of distracted driving include using a handheld communication device, talking on the phone, driving while impaired, having unsecured pets, adjusting volume and climate controls, eating, daydreaming, attending to children, and any other activity that prevents a driver from focusing only on driving.

Texting while driving is against Florida law. The first offense results in a $30 base fine, and a second offense has a $60 base fine plus 3 points entered against the motorist’s license. Using a wireless handheld communication device while in a school or work zone is a moving traffic violation with a $60 base fine, not including court costs and fees, plus 3 points entered against the motorist’s license.

To help prevent distracted-driving crashes, the Florida Department of Transportation has designated 64 phone safe zones throughout Florida, more than any other state. These zones include Rest Areas, Welcome Centers, and Turnpike Service Plazas. If a driver receives an urgent message or an important situation arises, they can safely pull over at any of these official locations.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
  • Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” or “Safe Driving Mode.”
  • If there is an urgent call, text, or situation you need to attend to, pull over into one of Florida’s 64 designated Phone Safe Zones before responding. These zones include Rest Areas, Welcome Centers, and Turnpike Service Plazas.
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and pull over to a safe location to rest if you feel drowsy. When traveling, take a break every 2-3 hours or 100 miles.
  • Complete a trip checklist beforehand: Program your GPS, set climate and volume controls, check the position of your mirrors and seats, and put your phone on a “Do Not Disturb” setting.
  • Properly secure any pets or young children. If an emergency arises, pull over instead of trying to resolve the issue while driving.