I-4 Ultimate Project

With an estimated 55 million people traveling to Orlando this year, traffic is becoming more of an issue for local commuters.

Local Commuter Zack Bain said he spends 30-minutes a day stuck in traffic, and something needs to be done to solve this issue.

Well with a daily average of 1.5 million people commuting on I-4, traffic has reached an all time high. The Florida Department of Transportation says that 58 percent of these people are local commuters. That’s why FDOT has started working on a new project to alleviate traffic for commuters.

It’s called the I-4 Ultimate Project. This project is going to widen I-4 for about 20 miles starting on the northside and add more lanes to the interstate. FDOT says they will add a toll lane for people in a rush, to guarantee they get to their destination on time. FDOT official Steve Olson said it’s a short fee, but will allow the people willing to pay the fee, less drive time.

FDOT is also raising the speed limit to 60 miles per hour. Not only are they adding 60 new bridges, but they are also including two pedestrian walkways. This project is expected to cost two-billion dollars and take will up to six years to complete.

Officials said that the two-billion dollars will mostly come from state funding. However, FDOT is also reaching out to the private sectors to help with the financing. Eventually, the tolling revenues are going to be used to pay back the people who helped finance the project.

Currently, traffic delays add 55 hours to each traveler’s drive time per year. Officials say these new additions will help solve this problem and lower traffic congestion in the area.

Olson says the economy also plays a big role with this traffic congestion. Olson said, “When the economy tanked, we saw a lot of the congestion, even on I-4 and some of the surface roads, go down a little bit. But we’re starting to see recovery in the economy and we’re starting to get back to those levels before the recession and so traffic is only going to grow in this area.”

FDOT officials hope the new sunrail will also play a role in speeding up these traffic problems.

Olson says there is still a lot of work that need to be done. Engineers are looking to flatten the curves the interstate already has. The project will begin its construction phase in 2014.

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