JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five new flyover ramps along a busy stretch of the Interstate 4 corridor in Central Florida are opening three months ahead of schedule, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday.
Appearing in Orlando alongside state and local officials, DeSantis praised the Florida Department of Transportation for its progress after he ordered the agency last month to speed up road construction while fewer vehicles were on the road.
“These improvements will increase safety, ease the movement of commerce, and most importantly, enhance central Floridians’ commutes as we transition back to a fully functioning economy,” the governor said.
Completed work includes four new ramps connecting drivers on I-4 to State Road 408, along with a ramp that brings traffic from eastbound SR 408 onto westbound I-4. The final piece of the interchange project, a flyover that links up westbound SR 408 and westbound I-4, is set to open later this summer.
It’s all part of what is known as the I-4 Ultimate project, a $2.3 billion endeavor to overhaul roughly 21 miles of interstate in Orange and Seminole counties, which includes roads heavily traveled by tourists who drive south to visit Walt Disney World and other amusement parks.
The announcement came as Florida began the first full phase of its economic recovery, which includes reopening gyms and expanding capacities for restaurants and retail stores.
“This is the biggest milestone of the project to date, which will undoubtedly transform the heart of our state’s transportation system," FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault said.
Fewer drivers were expected to hit the road in April as many businesses scaled back or their halted operations after DeSantis issued a safer-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The governor instructed state transportation officials to take advantage of that opportunity by fast-tracking roadwork along I-4.
The goal last month was to have the five flyovers wrapped up by July 4. But with extended lane closures and road crews working in more than a dozen locations, the state was able to speed up that time table.
“Today’s ramp openings come more than three months ahead of schedule,” the governor said. “Not only that, but even when I accelerated it, today’s opening is six weeks sooner than even we anticipated in April, and I think that’s a testament to what DOT has been able to do.”
WATCH LIVE: Gov. DeSantis makes a major announcement about transportation in Orlando.Posted by WJXT4 The Local Station / News4JAX on Monday, May 18, 2020
To learn more about the I-4 Ultimate project, visit FDOT’s website.