MAITLAND, Fla. – In the two days that the new traffic pattern at the Maitland Boulevard / I-4 interchange has been in effect for weekday commuter traffic, more than a dozen drivers told News 6 the new pattern is more dangerous than the old one.
Sheryl Brautigam, who works in one of several office parks adjacent to Maitland Boulevard, said when FDOT directed traffic over the weekend to use both the now-open new elevated portions of Maitland Boulevard eastbound and the old ground-level sections, it gave drivers more open road to speed.
She said drivers driving faster combined with new ramps that take drivers to and from the elevated sections, and indecision, are causing additional crashes.
"I feel like an accident is waiting to happen because of the way this is here," Brautigam said. "I've been trying to find a different route to get to my destination because of the danger."
Staying on the elevated eastbound section of Maitland Boulevard now takes drivers to the I4 eastbound on-ramp as well as allows drivers to continue on Maitland Boulevard. Staying on the ground-level section now takes drivers to the I4 westbound ramp. Two ramps allow drivers to switch from the lower section to the upper section.
Other drivers said taking away turn lanes onto Keller Road and Lake Destiny Road are adding to the frustration and last-minute swerving.
Jason, an Uber and Lyft driver, said the new pattern is dangerous.
"It's confusing and dangerous," Jason said. "People don't know where to go, it's so confusing, they changed it overnight. Yes, they have signs, but if you're used to the same pattern and then people just stop in the middle, it's confusing."
Maitland police said they've gotten complaints from drivers frustrated by the pattern but also drivers concerned the pattern is dangerous.
Police said they'll patrol the area and enforce speeding and swerving.
FDOT said much of the erratic driving right now is because drivers are adjusting to the new pattern and insists driving through the interchange will become smoother with time.
"Maitland Boulevard is a heavily-traveled roadway that has experienced congestion even prior to construction," FDOT spokesperson Jessica Ottaviano said. "We are working to build a better roadway that will help relieve congestion in this area by elevating Maitland Boulevard over local roads. We understand as we work through construction it will require motorists to make adjustments and possibly create some delays as everyone gets familiar with these changes."
Ottaviano also adds that last year, westbound Maitland Boulevard underwent similar changes and drivers were initially confused by the new elevated road, but eventually adjusted.
Maitland police worked a crash Monday afternoon at the westbound entrance to I4 when a driver missed the on-ramp and hit a barrier.
News 6 traffic safety expert Steve Montiero said it's not the roads or the new traffic pattern, it's the drivers.
"I don't think we've given this area a chance for us even to say that it's dangerous," Montiero said. "It's been under construction for who knows how long, then we open it up for one day, and everyone's complaining about it? We just need to give it time."
Montiero said he drove the new pattern on Monday -- the elevated section, the ground-level section, and the new turning lanes, both eastbound and westbound.
"Drivers are driving too fast," Montiero said. "The driver is the one 100 percent responsible for the actions of that car. Just because we've opened a few lanes somewhere doesn't mean suddenly this is a dangerous road."
Ottaviano recommends drivers should give themselves extra time until they are used to the new interchange. She said FDOT will continue monitor the ramp and decided if any changes are necessary.