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Posted: May 2, 2016
Last modified: January 19, 2017

Motorists, understandably, want to get where they’re going on time. During the complex, six-year I-4 Ultimate project that will reconstruct 21 miles of Interstate 4 (I-4) from its roadbeds to many of its bridge tops, there will be some unavoidable delays.

“We know that drivers don’t like delays, but we are working to keep any significant interruptions confined to the overnight hours during the I-4 Ultimate project,” said Loreen Bobo, P.E., I-4 Ultimate Construction Program Manager. “Ultimately, the result will be a highway that better supports Central Florida’s growing population and economy well into the future.”

Often the best compromise between keeping construction going and traffic flowing without a stoppage is the rolling roadblock. The rolling roadblock – essentially a controlled slowing of traffic – is a proven traffic-management technique that assures mobility and safety when workers or machinery must be in the roadway. Such activities can include the construction of a bridge or overpass, especially when large girders, often weighing several tons, must be set into place over the travel lanes by massive cranes.

Rolling roadblocks begin several miles back from the construction area, and the process starts when law enforcement officers block entrance ramps to the highway along the affected route. Then, as the designated lead patrol cars pass by, the entrance ramps reopen and cars and trucks fall in line behind the law enforcement vehicles.

Traffic may slow to below 20 mph and on occasion come to a halt. But, ideally, the pace is such that the official lead cars will not reach the work zone until the construction procedure is completed and it is safe to pass through. Law enforcement officers, construction supervisors and traffic management teams do everything possible to keep traffic moving. Limiting the rolling roadblocks to overnight hours also minimizes the impact on the public.

Rolling roadblocks also offer several safety benefits, including:

  • Avoiding detours through neighborhoods at night, where motorists are unaccustomed to driving and where residents are trying to sleep
  • Preventing a complete stop of traffic on interstates, where a 10-minute stop often requires 40 more minutes to get traffic patterns back to normal
  • Minimizing the risk of rear-end collisions by gradual slowing all traffic, so that drivers, traveling at highway speeds, do not suddenly come upon a line of stopped vehicles.

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