Transforming Orlando’s Transportation Backbone
Over the next five years, our region is investing $12 billion to enhance Central Florida’s transportation system, with improvements that span highways, rail and air travel. That, of course, spells great news not only for residents, but for visitors as well. One of the upgrades that will have a tremendous impact on our tourism corridor is the 21-mile, $2.3 billion I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project — and soon the 40-mile Beyond the Ultimate — which will transform Central Florida to better connect our communities, boost our economy and improve everyone’s quality of life. Overseeing the transportation transformation is Loreen Bobo, P.E., District 5 director of transportation development for the Florida Department of Transportation and the state’s 2017 Government Engineer of the Year.
Q&A with Loreen Bobo, Florida Department of Transportation
How might improvements to I-4 make vacationing in Orlando an even more enjoyable experience?
Some 72 million visitors come here each year — and on a typical day, nearly 550,000 people (more than the population of the city of Atlanta) – are vacationing in Orlando. Reducing congestion will improve the visitor experience, allowing guests to spend more time on vacation and less time in traffic. Smoothing out undulations of the road and reducing curves will also enhance safety by dramatically improving motorists’ sight and stopping distances.
How much has I-4’s travel volume grown since the road was built more than 50 years ago?
FDOT is taking a road that was originally built for an Orlando that was home to 200,000 residents in the early 1960s and updating it to exceed the needs of the more than 2.5 million people who reside between Sanford and Kissimmee today. New interchanges will allow for more efficient travel between the interstate and arterial roadways. We are widening I-4, adding capacity to handle the more than 200,000 vehicles daily that pass through downtown Orlando and the busy I-4/SR-408 interchange. With I-4 Ultimate well underway, you’re now promoting the Beyond the Ultimate project.
What can you tell us about those plans?
Like I-4 Ultimate, Beyond the Ultimate will widen I-4 to a minimum of four general-use lanes in each direction and add two dedicated, dynamically tolled express lanes in each direction to reduce congestion. It will extend 19 miles to the north into Volusia County and 21 miles south, through the busy attractions corridor, into Polk County. Divided into smaller segments of construction, the projects will ultimately provide a better travel experience across more than 60 miles of I-4, through a metropolitan area that Forbes ranks as the fourth fastest-growing city in the nation.
When can we expect to see construction in the Disney and I-Drive corridors?
The 11 miles from east of Osceola Parkway to west of Kirkman Road are currently in design and right-of-way acquisition. Construction could begin as early as 2020.
Where can readers go for more information?
Visit i4Express.com to learn more and sign up for monthly newsletters to stay informed. Real-time traffic conditions on I-4 are also available by dialing 511.
President & CEO of Visit Orlando
MAJOR TRANSPORTATION UPGRADE
Improvements to I-4 will enhance our visitor experience
Think about everything in Orlando’s tourism corridor located a stone’s throw from I-4: Disney, Universal, Sea World, I-Drive, the Orange County Convention Center. The list goes on.
Whether heading to our world-renowned theme parks or driving to and from hotels, restaurants and regional attractions, millions of visitors rely on Central Florida’s most traveled roadway to navigate all the fun and exciting experiences that can be found throughout our destination.
Since construction started on I-4 Ultimate a few years ago, Orlando has embarked on a transformation of incredible proportions, one that promises to make vacationing (and living) here even more enjoyable. Progress is evident all along the 21- mile infrastructure project.
Now, as part of the recently announced Beyond the Ultimate project, improvements are scheduled to extend from east of Sand Lake Road to the northern reaches of Polk County. That stretch, of course, is a major tourism artery that includes access to every Disney theme park, Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Restaurant Row and the Highway 192 corridor. In addition, I-4 motorists will eventually find it more convenient to access Sea World, the Convention Center, I-Drive and Orlando International Airport via the Beachline Expressway — another vital road receiving a big makeover.
Visitors from around the globe look to Orlando for world-class hospitality and memories that will last a lifetime — and as America’s most visited destination, we certainly deliver. Enhancing our vast transportation network is among the many ways we can continue to put our finest foot forward, providing guests with the best experience.