Six things you should know about the I-4 Ultimate renovation before you're caught in a jam

Six things you should know about the I-4 Ultimate renovation before you're caught in a jam

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4. Will buildings be demolished so we can pave paradise?

In short, yes. "More than 600 parcels were acquired for I-4 Ultimate at an approximate cost of $600 million," Parks writes in an email. "Some were full takes including structures on the properties. Many more were partial acquisitions, where only a strip of right-of-way was needed.

Parking is going to be a bitch downtown, because the parking lots beneath the I-4 overpass – you know, those lots off Garland Avenue where you can pay to park by the hour – are going to be massively impacted by construction. According to Parks, 25 percent of the spots will remain available for use, which means 75 percent of them won't. Ouch.

I-4 at Lake Ivanhoe Rendering
I-4 at Lake Ivanhoe Rendering
5. Don't worry too much. We have a plan.

One of the biggest points made at last week's presentation was that there was a sense behind the strategy of closures and inconveniences. FDOT will give a 28-day notice for actual lane closures and a more succinct 14-day alert for exit closures, Parks says. Also, there won't be closures on "consecutive ramps," because people have to be able to get where they need to go.

Throughout the course of the project, there will be maps posted on i4ultimate.com to help you find out where your commute will be redirected; you can also sign up for specific alerts about your commute. And if you don't already use it, sign up for Florida's 511; all you have to do is sign up and then dial 511 for real-time traffic reports on the go.

I-4 Through Maitland Rendering
I-4 Through Maitland Rendering
6. Will this project really make I-4 better?

The new tolled interstate system, once it comes into play in 2021, will rely on the same systems used by the Central Florida Expressway Authority (the expressway authority we've all come to know and love for fraud and abuse of power) and the Florida Turnpike. So the equipment that catches you using lanes you were otherwise not entitled to use will be documented by camera. FDOT is banking on the fact that there will be actual cement barriers between the express lanes and the regular lanes on I-4 – in South Florida, express lanes are separated from free lanes by nothing more than little plastic poles – to make it harder for you to break the rules.

Maitland Pedestrian Bridge Rendering
Maitland Pedestrian Bridge Rendering

But in the end, do pay-for-play express lanes really work? In South Florida, it seems, it's not really doing the job. According to a February report from the Sun-Sentinel, the maximum fee of $10.50 for the express lanes on I-95 may increase to $14, because so many people are using them that traffic remains at a standstill during peak hours. Officials are even considering installing gates to make the elite lanes less approachable.

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