CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. – Fewer than two years after the completion of I-4 Ultimate, christened in large part by the opening of I-4 Express, the state’s Department of Transportation has its sights set on realizing more major projects in Central Florida.
FDOT announced updates on Wednesday to “Moving Florida Forward,” what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed in January and later saw approved by the state Legislature as a way to ease traffic congestion in Central Florida by injecting $4 billion from the General Revenue Surplus into local infrastructure projects.
“It’s been so intense lately that you have places in Central Florida and others that really are struggling with congestion, and there’s a lot of different things on the horizon. You see some of those projects which need to be done,” DeSantis said at the time.
In “Moving Florida Forward,” the following changes to I-4 are now forecasted, per FDOT:
- I-4 from ChampionsGate to Osceola Parkway: This project will reconstruct I-4 to accommodate three general use lanes, auxiliary lanes, and two special use lanes in the eastbound and westbound directions from west of County Road (C.R.) 532 / Champions Gate to east of C.R. 522 / Osceola Parkway. Reconstruction of existing interchanges is also part of this project.
- I-4 at State Road 33 Interchange: The I-4 at S.R. 33 interchange is located within the City of Lakeland in the northwest portion of Polk County. The interchange is a rural diamond interchange configuration that has single lane on- and off-ramps and two unsignalized ramp terminal intersections. This project will make modifications to the interchange, add lanes on S.R. 33 from Old Combee Road to North Tomkow Road, and improve wildlife crossings.
- I-4 from U.S. 27 to ChampionsGate: This project will reconstruct I-4 to accommodate three general use lanes, auxiliary lanes, and two special use lanes in the eastbound and westbound directions from west of U.S. 27 to west of County Road (C.R.) 532 / Champions Gate.
News 6 confirmed the “two special use lanes” teased in the ChampionsGate project description will be more I-4 Express lanes, yet they won’t be connected to those built during the I-4 Ultimate project right away.
“Bringing major infrastructure projects to life 15 to 20 years sooner through the Moving Florida Forward Initiative is a huge win for Florida’s families as they battle congestion on roadways across the state,” FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. said in a statement. “The FDOT team is excited to carry out Governor DeSantis’ bold vision and bring this much-needed relief to our communities now that funding is secured with support from the Legislature. We’re ready to get to work.”
Eily Mena, who lives in Davenport and works at home, said traffic is a major issue in the area.
“That’s why I decided to work from home,” Mena said. “When I moved here, it was really crazy the way people drive and all of that, so I decided to remove all of that and just work from home.”
She said there’s always traffic.
“Whenever I do go to Orlando, it’s always congested,” Mena said. “It doesn’t matter what day it is, it could be Sunday at 11 a.m. and there’s traffic.”
News 6 Traffic Safety Expert Trooper Steve Montiero said the upgrade will help.
“This will change the way people travel on a daily basis and probably even boost their way of life out in that area,” he said. “We’re talking a four-, five-mile stretch of roadway that will add 45 minutes to an hour of someone’s travel time. This (change) is going to allow people to completely bypass that and not have to mingle with crashes.
Construction is said to begin in late 2024 for the ChampionsGate and SR-33 projects, with a later start date of fall 2026 given for the US-27 project, according to the release.
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