The Big Drive will help infamous Fairbanks Curve

Local 6 News at 5:30p
Local 6 News at 5:30p

WINTER PARK, Fla. – The I-4 Ultimate construction project may stretch 21 miles, but the small stretch of interstate surrounding the Fairbanks Curve will be a major point of emphasis.

"It's just crazy," said Michael Bouldin, a semitrailer driver.  "People don't watch their speed, and before you know it, they're in your way."

The dangers of the 2-mile strip of highway were once again highlighted by a semi-truck accident early Wednesday morning.  Traveling westbound on I-4, the truck had nearly completed the curve when it suddenly lost control and slammed into a concrete barrier; the truck then burst into flames.  Fortunately, the driver was uninjured by charges are now pending.

Bouldin has been driving his truck route up and down I-4 for years, and he says the Fairbanks stretch is notoriously bad.  Now, with construction on the horizon, he worries it could get even worse.

"We're looking at years of construction and destruction," said Bouldin.

The Federal Department of Transportation says a paved layer of asphalt was laid down on the strip of I-4 back in 2012 to help with tire traction, and avoid accidents.  However, truck drivers who frequent the small stretch of I-4 don't seem to know the difference.

"I haven't noticed anything being fixed," Bouldin said. "It's a nightmare."

The highway's initial design from the 1960s included elevated hills and sharp turns.  FDOT's Steve Olson says the new project will change that.

"The new design won't have so much up-and-down and curve there," Olson explains. "It will smooth all that stuff out."

The Ultimate I-4 project officially began construction Tuesday, but no visible construction work will likely be seen for another few weeks. The project is projected to take 6 and a half years to complete. FDOT preaches driver caution, safety, and most importantly patience as it prepares for the long haul ahead.