Wrong-way detection systems now at every I-4 Express direct-connect ramp

Cameras, sensors installed at Central Parkway, Ivanhoe Boulevard, South Street, Grand National Drive

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation confirmed to News 6 the Express lanes in the center of Interstate 4 now have wrong-way vehicle detection systems installed at every direct-connect ramp.

Cameras, sensors and lights are installed and functioning at all four of the direct-connect ramps, including Central Parkway, Ivanhoe Boulevard, South Street and Grand National Drive.

Direct-connect ramps are special exits and entrances that feed directly into and out of the Express toll lanes without requiring drivers to enter the general toll-free lanes of I-4.

FDOT began planning to retrofit the detection systems onto the direct-connect ramps this year after not designing the system into the I-4 Ultimate construction project. FDOT said the system hadn’t yet been invented when the department first began designing the $2.3 billion project a decade ago.

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But then a wrong-way driver caused a head-on crash just 10 days after the Express lanes opened early last year.

The driver believes he got on the wrong direct-connect ramp and didn’t know it until it was too late.

News 6 reported on the danger over the past year and involved local lawmakers.

FDOT agreed to move up installation of the WWVDS on all direct-connect ramps within a year.

The WWVDS sensors immediately notify troopers by text. The cameras snap pictures of a wrong-way driver and instantaneously transmit the images of the car to Florida Highway Patrol headquarters where dispatchers can send patrol cars and post warnings to unsuspecting drivers on overhead digital billboards.

FDOT spokesperson Cindi Lane said if you see that warning on an electronic message board, you should “reduce your speed, pull over, call 911 to report.”

All wrong-way signs now have LED lights that flash brightly to instruct a wrong-way driver to turn around.

The Central Florida Expressway Authority, which installed the same WWVDS on the off-ramps of State Roads 417, 408, 528 and 429, said the system works. The agency added that 87% of the time drivers make a U-turn, they go the right way.

Lt. Tara Crescenzi said that the FHP supports the installation of the WWVDS and “the technology has shown that it can assist with preventing these tragic crashes from occurring.”

But Crescenzi cautioned drivers that the system can only be effective if a driver is paying attention, even if it’s later than sooner.

“It is still the driver’s responsibility to be alert and aware of their surroundings when entering/exiting the interstate systems,” Crescenzi said.

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.