ORLANDO, Fla. – As the I-4 Ultimate project enters its fifth year of construction, many motorists are ready for work on the 21 miles of interstate improvements to be complete.
“They need to hurry up,” said Lulu Mills. “I live in the area so I hear them doing construction all night long.”
By the end of 2020, motorists should experience relief as they drive along several portions of the interstate project, which stretches from Kirkman Road in Orlando to State Road 434 in Longwood.
The State Road 436 interchange in Altamonte Springs is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
After years of traffic being routed on temporary lanes, this summer motorists could be shifted to the final footprint of the renovated interstate.
But perhaps the biggest development in the coming year will be the opening of the interchange at the 408 East-West Expressway.
“Without a doubt, this is the most complex portion of the project we’ve got,” I-4 Ultimate spokesman Dave Parks told News 6 during a recent tour of the interchange, which includes an 11-story flyover. “To get the bridge pieces in place, we had to put cranes on top of bridges. So you had to build bridges, then put cranes there so you could build even taller bridges.”
Despite the visible progress, I-4 construction is now more than nine months behind schedule, according to a report submitted last month to the Florida Department of Transportation by SGL Constructors, the project's primary contractor.
The interstate project is now expected to be substantially complete by September 30, 2021, the contractor stated.
SGL Constructors blames part of the delay on hurricanes Irma and Dorian.
But there have been other setbacks as well, including cracks that unexpectedly formed on a bridge near Colonial Drive and the need to use a different construction technique when attempts to drill holes in the ground under one section of road failed.
The contractor has not attributed any significant delay to workers’ deaths and injuries that have prompted temporary shutdown of construction.
Five workers have been killed since the project began, and more than 200 have been injured, FDOT records show.
The rate of injuries that have occurred during I-4 construction is below average for the highway construction industry, statistics kept by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicate.
The federal agency does not collect similar data about construction worker deaths.