Interstate 4 (I-4) is an integral part of Central Florida's transportation system. I-4 carries the greatest number of people and vehicles of any transportation facility in the region and serves many of the area's primary activity centers. When I-4 opened in February 1965, it was designed to serve intrastate and interstate travel by providing a critical link between the east and west coasts of Central Florida. Although this role continues to be a crucial transportation function of I-4, the highway has evolved to one that serves many shorter trips.
Today, the highway serves as the primary link between hotel/motel complexes and tourist attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, the International Drive Resort Area and downtown Orlando. In addition, since I-4 is the only southwest to northeast limited access facility that is centrally located between the predominant employment centers and the major suburbs to the northeast, it has become the primary commuting corridor in the Central Florida Metropolitan Area. The original I-4 Systems Access Modification Report (I-4 SAMR), dated April 2000, was completed as the technical justification for approval of new access and modification of existing access to approximately 74 miles of I-4, between CR 532 in Osceola County to west of I-95 in Volusia County. Supported by a 3-tier Multimodal Master Plan (MMMP) and a PD&E study, the I-4 SAMR evaluated several alternatives for the I- 4 corridor and recommended a list of improvements including additional lanes, barrier-separated HOV lanes, construction of auxiliary lanes, replacement of bridge structures, etc.
The document was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on June 13, 2000 with a subsequent update in 2003, and an update to the Ultimate I-4 section (west of Kirkman Road to east of SR 434) in 2010. There have been several NEPA related actions since the original SAMR submittal and subsequent updates. After completion of the I-4 MMMP, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) elected to move forward with the next phase of the I-4 project development with three PD&E sections:
1. PD&E Section 1 - Environmental Assessment (EA) for I-4 from CR 532 in Osceola County to SR 528 (Beachline Expressway) in Orange County.
2. PD&E Section 2 - Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for I-4 from SR 528 (Beachline Expressway) in Orange County to SR 472 in Volusia County.
3. PD&E Section 3 - EA for I-4 from SR 472 in Volusia County to I-95 in Volusia County. EAs were completed for Sections 1 and 3, while an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed for Section 2.
Only a portion of Section 2 (SR 435/Kirkman Road to SR 434) received a Record of Decision (ROD). That portion of Section 2 (SR 435/Kirkman Road to SR 434), known as the I-4 Ultimate Project, moved forward and began construction in February 2015.
Purpose and Need
Download the Purpose and Need (PDF, 4.3MB)
The purpose of the I-4 BtU project is to improve traffic operations, enhance connectivity, and improve safety on I-4 and the interchange cross-streets in the immediate vicinity of I-4. Without improvements to I-4, congestion will continue to increase and travel times and potential crashes will continue to increase for the residents, employees, freight carriers, and visitors of the region. This will negatively impact the economy and quality of life of the region. Improvements to the operation and safety of I-4 and the interchange areas will better accommodate future population increases, improve mobility, and support economic growth in the region. The I-4 BtU SAMR re-evaluation is needed due to changes proposed in the Modified Build scenario as compared to the previously approved Original Build scenario.
The changes include:
• A proposed change in the project typical sections: The proposed change is to the inside median of the I-4 corridor from US 27 in Polk County to SR 472 in Volusia County. The design change is to switch from HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes in the median (number of HOV lanes varied from one to two in each direction), to four express lanes, two in each direction. The conversion from HOV lanes to Express Lanes (ELs) is consistent with the I-4 Ultimate project. The conversion to ELs is consistent with statewide FDOT policy (Topic No. 525-030-020-a) and what is being implemented in the I-4 Ultimate section. The HOV to EL conversion was identified as a minor change in the Project Reevaluation Form for the ROW acquisition phase for a portion of the I-4 Ultimate.
• Proposed changes to interchange configurations: Several interchange configurations have been modified to better accommodate traffic volumes and improve interstate and cross-street operations.