The I-4 Ultimate project is transforming Central Florida. Easing congestion is one of the primary goals of the project, but there are plenty of other exciting elements of the project:
A variety of enhanced pylons will be seen throughout the I-4 corridor upon completion of the I-4 Ultimate Project. Some — such as those that are coming to Central Parkway, Ivanhoe Boulevard, and Grand National Drive — will include special lighting features and will indicate where direct connect express lanes ramps can be accessed. Other enhanced pylons will be part of localized beautification enhancements. These pylons will be placed on bridges at Michigan Street, through downtown Orlando, Princeton Street, and State Roads (S.R.) 436 and 434.
Bridge supports throughout the improved I-4 corridor will feature a variety of enhancements, including foliage planters, pylons, and decorative architecture. Some of the most dramatic improvements will be seen at Lake Ivanhoe, also called the “gateway to downtown,” Colonial Drive (S.R. 50), and downtown between Robinson Street and Amway Arena.
The bridge at Kennedy Boulevard will feature special messaging to honor the historic Town of Eatonville, the first self-governing, all-black municipality in the United States.
The I-4 Ultimate project will include roadway lighting, street lighting, signal pole lighting, under-bridge (or under-deck) lighting, landscape lighting, and aesthetic lighting.
Roadway lighting will include LED lights that vary in intensity depending on the area to be illuminated. The heads can be single or twin. The poles are mounted on pedestals, bridges, or barrier wall and are between 30 and 45 feet high.
There is under-deck lighting on most of the bridges within the project. Colored lighting under the I-4 Church Street overpass will provide a festive atmosphere and the colors will be adjustable to correspond to various events (i.e. purple for Orlando City soccer games, blue for Orlando Magic basketball, green for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, etc.).
There is landscape lighting at many locations such as in enhanced bridge planters and within interchanges. Various trees will have up-lighting. Areas such as Ivanhoe will undergo visible aesthetic improvements with new lighting features that will accentuate the updated landscape.
Landscaping features throughout the I-4 Ultimate Project will be updated to include native plants, which require less maintenance. Enhanced bridge supports through the project will include built-in planters for trees and other greenery.
The Kirkman Road area will see some of the most widespread landscaping along its various retention ponds, providing a welcoming sight for theme park visitors and others entering the southern part of the project.
The landscaping is diverse, with buffer trees, including holly and magnolia, as well as canopy trees, such as oak and elm. Flowering trees, including crepe myrtle, will add color. Palms are common throughout the area, and eight types of palms will be used on the project. Transitional trees, such as maple and cypress, and shrubs and colorful ground coverings, including plumbago and pink muhly, also will be planted. Most of these plants are low maintenance.
There will be decorative sidewalks in the downtown area.
Motorists will notice beautiful new water features throughout the corridor upon completion of the I-4 Ultimate Project. Planned locations for these features include the Ivanhoe area, the Maitland Boulevard and Kirkman Road interchanges, and downtown where I-4 connects to S.R. 408.
In addition to special water features, the entire project will feature many new or enlarged ponds for improved drainage.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is making great gains in technological advancements and safety. FDOT is also raising the standard for how other state departments of transportation generate new and better value for every transportation dollar invested. The I-4 Ultimate project is no exception.
FDOT demanded innovation, and I-4 Mobility Partners delivered, offering 25 approved alternative technical concepts and 27 project enhancing features.
Alternative technical concepts are proposed changes to basic configurations, the project scope, design and construction criteria, and provide an approach that is equal to or better than the requirements requested by FDOT.
I-4 Mobility Partners are focusing on innovation on Interstate 4 (I-4) to enhance:
- Traffic flow reliability with auxiliary lanes and added movements
- Consistency in driver expectancy and reduced travel times
- Driver and pedestrian safety with sight distance improvements, alignments, and walkability throughout interchanges
- Sustainability by using recycled materials
- Long-term operations using better technology
Below are a few highlights of how the I-4 Ultimate project is embracing innovation throughout the corridor:
State Road 436 Pedestrian Tunnel
The pedestrian tunnel at State Road (S.R.) 436 will be similar to the tunnel at S.R. 434 (pictured).
A pedestrian tunnel under State Road (S.R.) 436 between Douglas Avenue/Wymore Road and I-4 adds a unique safety feature for those on foot crossing the busy roadway. On an average day, 48,500 vehicles travel through the S.R. 436 at Douglas Avenue intersection. The pedestrian tunnel will help keep the walking public safe as they cross at least six lanes of traffic. The tunnel also improves the flow of traffic by eliminating the need for motorists to yield to pedestrians.
The 12-foot wide, 10-foot tall tunnel will always be fully lit, and Altamonte Springs Police Department will monitor security cameras located inside.
Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI)
Thousands of cars but just one set of traffic signals — that’s how two of the 15 major interchanges along I-4 will operate when the I-4 Ultimate project is complete. The S.R. 436 and Colonial Drive (S.R. 50) interchanges will each be reconstructed as single point urban interchanges (SPUIs) to move cars through tight areas — such as Downtown Orlando or Altamonte Springs — as efficiently as possible.
A SPUI is an efficient type of interchange that is used to safely move a lot of traffic within a limited amount of space. One set of traffic signals is centrally located on the surface street and controls all movement along the surface street and between the interstate and the street. Each SPUI will have six signal phases. This improves the efficiency of traffic moving between roadways and through the intersection on the surface street.
The Michigan Street and Kaley Avenue interchanges will feature Texas U-turns, or Texas Turnarounds.
Originating in Texas, these highway configurations can be found around the nation. Central Florida drivers may have already driven the U-turns in place at the intersections of U.S. Highway 17-92 and State Road (S.R.) 436 and S.R. 50 and S.R. 436.
The movement allows drivers traveling on a one-way frontage road to U-turn in an opposite direction frontage road without waiting at a traffic signal.
Currently, drivers can exit westbound I-4 to Michigan Street and use the U-turn to access Kaley Avenue and downtown Orlando. When the U-turn at Kaley Avenue is opened by the end of 2020, drivers will be able to exit eastbound I-4 to Kaley Avenue and use the U-turn to access Michigan Street.
I-4 Ultimate is one of the first highway re-builds to include advance traffic management technology in the design. Sensors and traffic cameras that enable FDOT to monitor traffic conditions in real time are built into other infrastructure, including overhead sign trusses. Digital communication technology is also built in to I-4 to facilitate traffic monitoring, and to deliver messages to the color dynamic message signs (DMS). It also allows FDOT to deploy, monitor and control ramp signaling in the downtown Orlando area; and to set and communicate toll rates, and collect tolls on the new I-4 Express Lanes.
The I-4 communication network is future looking, too, and will enable FDOT to deploy connected vehicle (CV) technology as CVs become more common. CV technology will allow FDOT to learn more about traffic and roadway conditions, then communicate safety messages directly to vehicles.
Ramp signaling is a way to reduce crashes at an on-ramp to I-4 while decreasing travel times on I-4. New ramp signals are being installed at 11 on ramps between John Young Parkway and Ivanhoe Boulevard to help improve safety and mobility through downtown Orlando.
A combination of sensors, cameras, and computers controls the frequency of vehicles entering I-4. This creates smoother merging patterns and reduces the need for vehicles on I-4 to slow down. FDOT will activate ramp signaling during heavy congestion. Drivers will stop at the red light at the end of the ramp and two vehicles will proceed on to I-4 when the light turns green.
Twenty-three cities in the U.S. use ramp signaling, including Miami. Some have seen a 50 percent reduction in crashes and more than 20 percent reduction in highway travel times. This results in drivers saving time on their commutes, fuel savings and reduced emissions.
Sound barriers will reduce noise impacts for residential communities adjacent to the I-4 corridor.
The I-4 Ultimate project may include construction of sound barriers to help reduce sound between the interstate and adjacent neighborhoods. Many factors determine sound barrier locations. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducted multiple noise studies for the 21-mile I-4 project. Currently, eight locations in Orange and Seminole counties are eligible for sound barriers. A majority of property owners adjacent to the proposed barriers indicated their support for them when surveyed by FDOT. Based upon the completed noise studies, construction of sound barriers is considered for eight residential communities adjacent to I-4.
When is a Noise Study Needed?
A noise study is required when:
- A new highway alignment is built.
- The number of through traffic lanes is increased.
Sound barriers will feature region-specific aesthetics to reinforce the sense of community.
I-4 Ultimate adds new Express Lanes and completely rebuilds the existing general use lanes. The Orange and Seminole counties’ I-4 noise studies used the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) traffic noise model to predict future traffic noise increases with the expansion of I-4. Areas predicted to experience future noise levels of 66 decibels or more have been evaluated for feasibility and cost reasonableness. More analysis is done during design.
What Are Sound Barriers?
Sound barriers are solid obstructions built between the highway and homes along a highway. They do not completely block all noise. They only reduce overall noise levels. Sound barriers are not built to block views of traffic from homes.
What Will a Sound Barrier Do?
A sound barrier can noticeably reduce traffic noise at homes located within 200 feet of a wall. This area adjacent to the wall is referred to as the “noise reduction zone,” as shown above. The goal of the barrier is to reduce noise by five to ten decibels. The amount of noise reduction depends on:
- Distance of the property from the barrier
- Distance of the noise source from the barrier
- Length and height of a barrier
- Elevation differences among the road, barrier and residences
Both FHWA and FDOT require that a sound barrier reduce traffic noise by at least five decibels to be considered feasible. Another FDOT requirement is that the cost per property to build a sound barrier is $42,000 or less. Meeting this requirement makes it cost reasonable. If a sound barrier is determined to be both feasible and cost reasonable, the property owners that would benefit from the barrier are asked to provide input on the proposed barrier.
To learn more about the sound barriers associated with I-4 Ultimate, please review the materials below.
The Wells House in the Holden-Parramore Historic District was once home to one of Orlando’s longest practicing African-American doctors.
Central Florida has a rich history, as demonstrated by hundreds of buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits of I-4 Ultimate, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District. Historic preservation is a priority of the I-4 Ultimate project.
The town of Eatonville was the first incorporated African-American town in the United States and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 3, 1998. Founded in 1887, the town has been continuously governed by persons of African-American descent, and the main road — Kennedy Boulevard — once served as a wagon trail. Key landscape and historic features will be integrated into the bridge design at Kennedy Boulevard to honor historic Eatonville.
This church at the corner of Parramore Avenue and South Street was originally the site of the first stone church for African-American residents in Orlando.
An interchange redesign at I-4 and State Road 408 lessens the project’s impact on two additional historic resources: Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District. Griffin Park, added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 1996, opened in 1940 as the city of Orlando’s first affordable housing project for impoverished African-Americans. The Holden-Parramore neighborhood once served as the segregated African-American section of the city, and several buildings in the area are illustrative of intact historic housing. The Holden-Parramore area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2009.
Although final design is not yet complete, current plans relocate the ramp from the 408 to westbound I-4 and the ramps from I-4 to westbound 408 to the east side of the Griffin Park apartments. Doing so opens the area under the current ramps to allow for green space or a stormwater retention pond. The planned design will restore the physical cohesiveness to the neighborhood that was lost during the original construction of I-4.
Once I-4 Ultimate is complete, the corridor will be a celebration of local heritage and will serve as a reminder of what makes Central Florida unique.
The I-4 Ultimate project is about more than concrete and asphalt. Residents and visitors to the 21-mile corridor will enjoy a richer cultural experience thanks to the I-4 Ultimate Art Endowment Program.
The I-4 Ultimate concessionaire’s initiative set aside $1.5 million to fund permanent art installations throughout the I-4 Ultimate project area that may be integrated into gateways, highway overpasses, pedestrian bridges, parks, and streetscapes.
See a list of some beneficiaries below and check this page for future updates on installations coming to a neighborhood near you.
Mother cranes and their roosting chicks are among the features of Cranes Roost Park in the city of Altamonte Springs, and two new residents have moved in. On the north side of the park, a 19-foot-tall, stainless steel mother crane and be seen caressing its baby in its nest. Click here for more information, a video and photos.
“Nurture” in Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs is a sculpture of a mother crane and her baby, the namesake birds of the park.
Have you ever stepped inside a giant orange blossom? Well, you can at Fennell Street and Keller Road, where twinkling lights and historical plaques highlight a large metallic flower. Sit below the 18-foot-high petals of the orange blossom to appreciate the beauty of the flower and the towering influence the citrus industry once had in Central Florida. To learn more and view a video, click here.
The “Blossom” sculpture in Maitland allows visitors and residents to appreciate the beauty of the flower and recognize the influence of the citrus industry on the region.
In March 2021, Orange County commissioners and the I-4 Ultimate Art Endowment committee approved a sculpture by JEFRË, a Central Florida-based artist also known for “Disco,” a 35-foot stainless steel installation in Lake Nona modeled after a Labrador retriever.
For Orange County, JEFRË will create a sculpture of multiple people on each other’s shoulders, named “Family Tree,” to be placed at the intersection of Grand National Drive and Caravan Court.
“Family Tree” will stand near the heart of the attractions area, which entertains locals and visitors from all around the world.
The city reviewed more than 300 art concepts to find one that would meet the spirit of the endowment, beautify the area, and be appreciated by drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. After narrowing the field to four finalists, the city council and the I-4 Ultimate Art Endowment committee approved Hunter Brown’s “Solidarity.”
Brown, of Innovative Sculpture Design in Little Rock, Arkansas, aims to create designs with deeper meaning that “push the limits of form, structure and space.”
“The relationship between forms in the Solidarity design reflects our relationships in our communities and in our world. There is strength in unity, working together, and a collective effort for the greater good,” Brown said in his proposal.
The blended brush-patterned, stainless-steel installation will be visible when approaching Colonial Drive (State Road 50) and Garland Avenue. Illuminated by an LED lighting system at night, two twisted, ribbon-like forms will reach toward the sky, embracing a large reflective sphere representing our world and the communities we live in, 35 feet above the ground.
The twisting forms are joined at the base and anchored by an arch symbolizing “strength, support, and thresholds in time.”
Caption – Representing the world and the local communities, “Solidarity,” will stand near Colonial Drive (State Road 50) in downtown Orlando.
See the true colors of the vibrant city of Winter Park come shining through day or night in the 18-foot-tall artistic display on Fairbanks Avenue near I-4. The various hues represent well-known aspects of the city famous for its small-town atmosphere, art fairs, peacocks, and brick streets dotted with lively restaurants and a wide variety of stores. To learn more and view a video, click here.
The lively “Rhythmic Colors” sculpture shines bright day and night, representing well known aspects of the city’s streets and store fronts.