The toll lanes for Florida’s I-4 Ultimate, a seven-year, $2.4 billion project, are now open, with 21 miles of rebuilt highway and new express lanes between Orange and Seminole counties.
It is the largest road project in state history.
Highlights of the project:
- Reconstruction of I-4 lanes and adding four new tolled I-4 Express lanes – two in each direction.
- Reconstruction of 15 major interchanges.
- Replacement of 74 bridges, widening of 13 bridges, and adding 53 new bridges.
The I-4 Express lanes, the centerpiece of the project, are now open on the interstate’s center lanes and separated by concrete barriers. The Florida Department of Transportation says work is wrapping up on the overall project.
“The completion of these express lanes, and earlier general use lanes, is the culmination of 21 million man hours of dedicated work by local and industry professionals,” said William McGuinness, project director of SGL Constructors. “With this milestone, the 21-mile corridor is now prepared for full functionality and use for the 220,000 daily visitors, businesses and residents of Central Florida using this vital interstate.”
The project has experienced a series of problems over the years. Five workers have died on the job, and more than 200 have been injured.
Moody’s Investors Service issued a negative outlook for the loans on the project in 2018 when the partnership created to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project, requested a 245-day delay and additional $100 million in compensation from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Then last year, Lane Construction sued fellow SGL Constructors partner Skanska USA Civil Southeast for $132 million. Lane accuses Skanska of causing it “enormous financial losses” by not exercising its right to exit the FDOT contract when faced with a 245-day delay and cost overruns in 2018. Skanska has a 40% stake in the project. Lane’s stake is 30%, the same as Granite, which is also a member of the partnership.
Skanska Asset Management and John Laing, comprising the I-4 Mobility Partners, will be in charge of operating and maintaining the I-4 Express for 33 years. The tolls will be adjusted based on traffic volumes.
FDOT is now turning its attention to the “Beyond the Ultimate” project. It is designed to improve 40 miles on I-4 north and south of the Ultimate project. The Beyond the Ultimate consists of six segments. FDOT says the project is progressing “interchange by interchange” as needs and funding arise.