New interstate option will be available early 2022
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is in the final stages before opening the managed lanes on Interstate 4 (I-4), known locally as I-4 Express.
Extensive training with emergency response personnel is essential to a smooth and safe opening for the Central Florida community. FDOT has been coordinating with first responders along the 21-mile project corridor over the past few months finalizing emergency procedures within the managed lanes. With the lanes ready for traffic, first responders have been able to access the lanes and conduct field training.
To round out the coordination activities, FDOT will conduct a series of mock exercise scenarios first responders may encounter when responding to emergencies in I-4 Express. Once emergency personnel are prepped, the Department will set an opening date.
Coordination and training are large efforts involving Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), county sheriffs and city police, county and city fire and emergency medical services (EMS), staff at the FDOT District 5 Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC) and with the traffic incident management (TIM) team, which includes Road Rangers.
I-4 Express is separated from the general use lanes by a concrete barrier and is accessible by slip ramps to and from the interstate or direct connect ramps. First responders will have connections to I-4 Express through strategically placed emergency access gates in addition to the ramps, giving them entrances approximately every 2 miles. Knowing where and how to get to the best access point is crucial for emergency personnel’s rapid response.
The gates can be opened during emergencies remotely from the RTMC, from emergency response vehicles, or manually on site. First responders also are learning locations of standpipes along the corridor and how to identify their positions when water is needed. B-roll of some training can be found here.
Safety is a community effort. When I-4 Express opens, motorists are reminded to be mindful of the speed limit and focus attention on driving. During emergencies, whether in the general use lanes or I-4 Express, use the right-hand shoulder and wait for first responders. Road Rangers, who can be reached by dialing *347 (*FHP), also will be available to assist first responders as well as make minor mechanical repairs.
Media inquiries should be directed to the FDOT District Five Communications Office at [email protected] or by phone at 386-943-5593.