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Interstate 4

Interstate 4 Florida

 

Routing

Located wholly within Florida, Interstate 4 provides a southwest to northeast connection across the central section of Florida, providing access to the metropolitan areas of Tampa-St. Petersburg, Lakeland-Winterhaven, Orlando, and Daytona Beach. Paralleling original U.S. 92 across the state, Interstate 4 is a major transportation corridor that is inadequate at four lanes. Various construction programs are programmed to improve the capacity of Interstate 4 in various locations, but funding the expansion remains an obstacle. In 2002, exit numbers along Interstate 4 were changed from sequential to a mileage basis.

Planned Improvements

A recently unveiled plan calls for construction of a new, north-south freeway connector between Interstate 4 and Florida 618 roughly parallel to 30th Street. Such a spur route would allow for direct Interstate connections to the Port of Tampa and MacDill Air Force Base via Toll Florida 618. For more, visit the official Tampa's Crosstown Expressway web page. Other plans for this corridor call for Florida 618 to connect directly to the Gandy Bridge and Interstate 275 north of downtown St. Petersburg.

Much of Interstate 4 is under construction or being widened. Some of the fruits of years of construction are evident on Interstate 4 near Tampa, but construction continues along the corridor. Most of the improvements involve widening Interstate 4 from four to six lanes, including the replacement of the St. Johns River Bridge with a two three-lane spans in lieu of one four-lane span. Another strategy has been to construct alternate routes (generally toll roads) that offer relief. Examples include the toll Crosstown Expressway (Toll Florida 618, which is currently being extended east through Brandon), Central Florida Greeneway (Florida 417), Toll Florida 429, and the Polk Parkway (Toll Florida 570).

Through Orange and Seminole Counties along with the city of Orlando, a variety of improvements have been proposed, most of which are controversial. In October 2003, the "Mobility 20/20" tax plan proposed an expanded Interstate 4 through the metropolitan area, but that was rejected by voters. One of the reasons cited for the failure of this tax was the disdain for toll lanes on Interstate 4. Nevertheless, the idea returned in March 2005.

At that time, officials proposed a managed lanes concept that is similar to the reversible and high occupancy vehicle lane concept found in Southern California, such as California 91 (Riverside Freeway) and Interstate 15 (Escondido Freeway). These highways feature managed lanes in the median that can be adjusted to allow for more traffic in either direction. High occupancy vehicles use the lanes for free, while single occupancy vehicles are charged an electronic toll to use the lanes. Called XPress 400, these new lanes would cost over $1.5 billion to complete (2005 estimate) and would be managed by the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. The project would install the new toll lanes in the median, add a continuous fourth lane in both directions, straighten out some sections of the freeway, and reconstruct interchanges. The project is proposed to span from Florida 435 (Kirkman Road) to Florida 434. If approved, completion would be in 2013.1

For more information, visit Trans4mation.org, the official web site for the project. For more on the improvements planned for the entire Interstate 4 corridor, visit the Trans4mation.org Home Page.

Adjacent Toll Roads

Several toll roads have been constructed to provide an alternate to Interstate 4 throughout Central Florida. Some of these routes include Tampa's Toll Florida 618/Lee Roy Selmon Expressway/Crosstown Expressway; Toll Florida 570/Polk Parkway around Lakeland; and Toll Florida 417/Central Florida Greeneway (the Eastern Orlando Beltway).

History

Interstate 4 is a shorter road than it was first envisioned by several miles. As originally conceived, Interstate 4 continued southwest on Interstate 275 from its western terminus into St. Petersburg; at that time, Interstate 275 north of Interstate 4 was Interstate 75. At that time, Interstate 75 ended at its junction with Interstate 4 in downtown Tampa, and for a time, there were no plans to extend Interstate 75 any further south.

During this time, Interstate 4 ended in downtown St. Petersburg. There were some plans at that time to extend Interstate 4 further west to the Gulf of Mexico, but that section was not constructed. Therefore, Interstate 4 ended in downtown St Petersburg. However, with the extension of Interstate 75 south to Fort Myers and Naples, Interstate 4 was truncated to downtown Tampa. Most of this change happened between 1970 and 1972. A 1971 Esso Map of Florida shows the Howard Frankland Bridge co-signed as Interstate 4 and Interstate 75; by 1973, the bridge was shown as Interstate 275, with Interstate 75 still unconstructed to the east of Tampa. The entire route of former Interstate 4 west of its current junction with Interstate 275 is now part of Interstate 275.

The following are key dates in the history of Interstate 4:2

  • 1959 - Interstate 4 opened from Plant City to Lakeland (first segment to open). Interstate 4 under construction (1) from Tampa to Plant City and (2) on the Howard Frankland Bridge (which was then part of Interstate 4)
  • 1960 - Interstate 4 opened along (1) the Howard Frankland Bridge, (2) from East Tampa east to Lakeland, and (3) from Lake Monroe to near Lake Helen. Proposed (as yet unconstructed) sections that year on Interstate 4 included those in St. Petersburg, in Tampa, from Lakeland to Orlando, and from Lake Helen to Tiger Bay State Forest.
  • 1961 - Interstate 4 opened from Lakeland to Orlando and under construction from Lake Helen east to Daytona Beach. Sections still unconstructed and proposed included segments in St. Petersburg, in Tampa, and from Orlando to Sanford.
  • 1963 - The only section of Interstate 4 in Tampa that had still not yet built was between Armenia and 22nd Street.
  • 1963 - In Orlando, Interstate 4 was complete up to Robinson Street and was labeled "Orlando Expressway."
  • 1969 - Interstate 75 extended south, sharing an alignment with Interstate 4 from Tampa southwest to St. Petersburg.
  • 1971 - Beginning of Interstate 4 truncated to the interchange with Interstate 75 (now Interstate 275) in Tampa. Interstate 4 now complete from Interstate 275 in Tampa to Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach.

Florida 400

Every state-maintained highway has a state route designation. In the case of Interstate 4, it is Florida 400. Although it is not signed for most of its length, a portion of the route is signed at the east end. In Daytona Beach, east of the interchange between Interstate 4 and Interstate 95, Florida 400 continues straight as a four-lane surface road to meet U.S. 1. The short Florida 400 spur into Daytona Beach is accessed via Exit 260 (former Exit 58) from Interstate 4; if it were located in South Carolina, this state route would probably be designated as Business Spur I-4.

The aforementioned "XPress 400" toll lanes plan is so named because of the hidden state route designation for Interstate 4.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 275 - Tampa, Florida
Perspective from Interstate 4 west
This picture shows Interstate 4 westbound within its final mile. Interstate 275 makes a 90-degree turn at the Interstate 4 interchange. Coming from the west near Tampa International Airport, Interstate 275 turns due north at its interchange with Interstate 4, en route to Interstate 75 and Ocala. As noted above, early in the development of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate 4 was signed west via today's Interstate 275 across the Howard Frankland Bridge into St. Petersburg, where it would have terminated. This was changed when Interstate 75 was planned for extension to Southwest Florida, and Interstate 4 was retracted to its intersection with Interstate 275. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (12/02).
Westbound Interstate 4 at Interstate 275; this is the last series of sign bridges. The busy interchange is set for reconstruction starting in 2002. Exit 26 for Downtown - East Jefferson Street refers to the first Interstate 275 southbound ramp one encounters and thus carries an Interstate 275 based exit numbering convention (now Exit 45A). Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
New signage adorns the sign bridge depicted in the above photograph. Interstate 4 ends at this point; the left lanes continue onward to southbound Interstate 275, and the right lane exits to northbound Interstate 275. As noted earlier, at one time Interstate 4 had continued in the left lanes, crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge to meet its terminus at the current Exit 31B/Florida 688 exit in north St. Petersburg. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (12/02).
Perspective from Interstate 275 south
Old Exit 27/new Exit 45B guide signage for Interstate 4 east on Interstate 275 southbound. From this direction, Interstate 4 signage is complimented with an Interstate 75 trailblazer and control city of Naples. This sign was placed to advise through traffic to utilize Interstate 75 rather than Interstate 275 to reach Southwest Florida. Interstate 275 continues west and south towards Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg, while Interstate 4 accesses Interstate 75 nine miles to the east. Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
Interstate 275 southbound is choked to two through lanes of travel in the Interstate 4/East Jefferson Street (Exit 45) interchange. This photograph looks at Interstate 275 southbound at the eastbound beginning ramp for Interstate 4. The control city for Interstate 4 is the growing city of Orlando. The central Florida tourist destination is approximately 80 miles to the northeast. Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 275 south
Interstate 375 22 miles at Saint Petersburg, FL
Interstate 175 23 miles at Saint Petersburg, FL
Interstate 75 45 miles near Palmetto, FL
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 95 - Daytona Beach, Florida
Perspective from Interstate 4 east
Eastbound Interstate 4 as it approaches the final mainline exit before terminating at Interstate 95. Exit 129 (formerly Exit 57) serves a divided connector between Interstate 4 and U.S. 92 on the outskirts of Daytona Beach. U.S. 92, known as International Speedway Boulevard, is home to Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR's equivalent of football's Super Bowl, the Daytona 500. Note that the overhead signage simply refers to Interstate 4 eastbound as "To Interstate 95". Photo taken by Dan Moraseski.
Interstate 4 eastbound at the northbound Interstate 95 exit ramp (unsigned exit number on this sign bridge). The continuation of Interstate 4 to Florida 400/Beville Road is shown as Exit 58, while Interstate 95 is unsigned. New mile-based exit numbers installed during 2002 may have corrected this oversight. Either way, this interchange is now Exit 132. Photo taken by Dan Moraseski.
An end Interstate 4 shield is posted at the eastern terminus of the 132-mile Interstate. This shield is the first of two, and is placed before the transition ramp to Florida 400. No such shield is placed at the western terminus of Interstate 4. Photo taken by Mark O'Neil (04/00).
Continuing past the Interstate 95 northbound ramp is the split between Florida 400 east (Exit 132/58) and Interstate 95 south. It is unknown whether or not the straight-ahead ramp into Daytona Beach is still given the only exit number for this interchange (Exit 132). Photo taken by Dan Moraseski.
At the end of the Interstate 4 east to Florida 400 eastbound ramp is a second Interstate 4 end shield, together with a begin Florida 400 shield. Traffic that proceeds eastward will reach U.S. 1 at South Daytona in three miles. Florida 400 also intersects Clyde Morris Boulevard, a north-south road that serves Daytona International Airport and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Photo taken by Dan Moraseski.
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Although still with sequential exit numbers, Interstate 95 southbound at the Interstate 4 westbound ramp (old Exit 260B/86B). The next exit (Exit 260A/86A) is for the cloverleaf ramp to South Daytona/Florida 400. Downtown Orlando is a 50-mile drive southward on Interstate 4. Daniel Davis notes, "If you look at far bottom right side this picture you can see a small Interstate 95 shield in the background (along the transition ramp from southbound Interstate 95 to westbound Interstate 4). ... This shield is actually an 'END Interstate 95' shield (you can actually make out the END banner on the picture if you look closely). Obviously, Interstate 95 continues to south Florida." We are not aware of other instances where END shields are placed on transition ramps. Photo taken by Garrett Hayman (11/02).
A revisit to the area shows Interstate 4 east departing as Exit 260B. The aforementioned end Interstate 95 shield reveals itself in this and the next photograph. Photo taken by Daniel Davis (06/08/03).
End Interstate 95 shield on the Interstate 4 westbound transition ramp. Interstate 95 does not actually end until 260 miles southward in Miami. Photo taken by Daniel Davis (06/08/03).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 south
Interstate 595 236 miles at Fort Lauderdale, FL
Interstate 195 256 miles at Miami, FL
Interstate 395 258 miles at Miami, FL

Sources

  1. "Toll idea advances despite opposition," by Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel; March 16, 2005; page A-1.
  2. Florida's Interstates: A Half-Century of Progress (official Florida Department of Transportation site)

Page Updated May 20, 2006.

 
Mileage

State Florida
Mileage 132.39
Cities Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, Daytona Beach
Junctions Interstate 275, Interstate 75, Florida's Turnpike, Interstate 95
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 4 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Florida Tampa 118,500 2002
Florida Orlando 183,000 2002
Florida Daytona Beach 34,500 2002
Source: Florida Traffic Information 2002 CD-Rom
Complete Interstate 4 AADT data.

 
Florida 408 Toll (East-West Expressway) eastbound on the approach to Interstate 4 (Exit 10) in Orlando. New ramps to Interstate 4 replace a turnpike style trumpet-to-trumpet connection. Photo taken 05/16/08.
The junction between Interstate 4 and Orlando's East-West Expressway is one of the busiest along the 132-mile freeway. FDOT is midway through a multi-year project to build a new stack interchange between the two limited access highways. Details on the various project stages can be found at Trans4mation.org
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