ORLANDO, Fla. – For the first time since the Florida Department of Transportation announced a traffic shift that would impact the 12,000 drivers who take the Colonial Drive exit on I-4 in the westbound lanes, rush hour traffic was put to the test Monday morning.
The exit is now on the left side of the interstate and requires drivers to exit three-fourths of a mile sooner, after passing over New Hampshire Street, according to FDOT.
“The biggest concern is how drivers adjust to the new change because it’s so different than what they’ve been used to,” said David Parks, a spokesman for the I-4 Ultimate Project. “Colonial, you think downtown, whereas this exit begins just before entering into that downtown area.”
The ramp puts drivers at a signaled intersection at Ivanhoe Boulevard before crossing over Lake Ivanhoe Boulevard. Drivers will follow Legion Place and Orange Avenue to get to Colonial Drive.
Some drivers who took the new path Monday said the delays weren’t as bad as they expected them to be.
“So far, better than I thought, for what this is going to be,” John Purdy said after taking the exit for the first time.
Brian Sarles also used the exit for the first time Monday morning and said signage in the area should help drivers feel prepared for the change.
“Just be careful and read the signs," he said. "They’re everywhere out here.”
The temporary exit will be in place for about a year as crews work on rebuilding the interchange at Colonial Drive and I-4.
“The reason we need to make that change is crews need to get in and reconstruct that exit ramp as well as some of the permanent westbound lanes in the area,” Parks said.
Officials purposely set the change for 10 p.m. Saturday to give drivers time to adapt to the change before the busy Monday morning commute.
“Make sure you are paying attention and be ready for this shift,” Parks said.
Click here for a detailed map showing the new exit.