Florida 408 Toll (East-West Expressway) eastbound on the approach to Interstate 4 (Exit 10) in Orlando. 2008-opened ramps to Interstate 4 replaced a turnpike style trumpet-to-trumpet connection. Photo taken 05/16/08.
The junction between Interstate 4 and SR 408 (East-West Expressway) is one of the busiest along the 132-mile freeway. The Ultimate I-4 project will complete the redesign of the exchange into a high-speed interchange.
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 completed between the mid 1990s and 2008 improved the capacity of Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando, with widening underway in Volusia through to 2015. In 2002, exit numbers along Interstate 4 were changed from sequential to a mileage basis.
Through Orange and Seminole Counties along with the city of Orlando, a variety of improvements were proposed, most of which were 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 was proposed to span from Florida 435 (Kirkman Road) to Florida 434. Completion was envisioned by 2013.1
The Trans4mation project resulted in some improvements to area interchanges, such as the building of a new flyover from I-4 west to John Young Parkway and completion of Phase 1 of the I-4 and SR 408 (East West Expressway) interchange upgrade. The remainder of work is now apart of the I-4 Ultimate Project. The new initiative focuses on 21 miles of Interstate 4, from south of SR 435 (Kirkman Road) in Orange County to north of SR 434 in Seminole County. The $2.3-billion project kicks off in early 2015 and runs through early 2021. Work focuses on rebuilding 15 interchanges, replacing 75 bridges and adding 4 Express (toll) Lanes along the median of Interstate 4.
Adjacent Toll Roads
Several toll roads have been constructed to provide an alternate to Interstate 4 throughout Central Florida. Some of these routes include the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway (SR 618) at Tampa; Polk Parkway (SR 570) around Lakeland; and Central Florida Greeneway (SR 417) around the east side of Orlando and Daniel Webster Western Beltway (SR 429) around the west side of Orlando.
As originally planned, Interstate 4 continued southwest on what is now Interstate 275 from its western terminus across the Howard Frankland Bridge into St. Petersburg; at that time, I-275 north of I-4 was Interstate 75. Some plans extended Interstate 4 further west from Downtown St. Pete to the Gulf of Mexico, but that section was not constructed.
The extension of Interstate 75 south to Fort Myers and Naples in 1971 replaced Interstate 4 west from the Downtown Interchange in Tampa to Pinellas County. 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 rerouted onto a new alignment to the east of Tampa.
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 Downtown Interchange with Interstate 75 (renumbered Interstate 275 in 1973) in Tampa. Interstate 4 now complete from Interstate 275 in Tampa to Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach.
Every state-maintained highway in Florida has a state road designation. In the case of Interstate 4, it is State Road 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.
The aforementioned "XPress 400" toll lanes plan was so named because of the hidden state road designation for Interstate 4.
An end sign for Interstate 4 was added to the freeway in 2006. The freeway through Tampa and the Ybor city area was completely rebuilt utilizing a larger foot print with a wide grassy median. The median may be used for future Express Lanes or light rail. Photo taken 03/23/14.
The four lanes of Interstate 4 west separate into three movements at the Downtown Interchange. Exit 45A joins a distributor roadway of I-275 south through to Jefferson Street and Ashley Drive into Downtown Tampa. A separate flyover was built for this ramp during 2002-06 reconstruction of the tri-level stack interchange. Photo taken 03/23/14.
Common traffic congestion due to the bottleneck of Interstate 275 from six to four lanes bleeds onto Interstate 4 west at the Downtown Interchange. I-275 leads through north Tampa to the University of South Florida campus and I-75 at the Pasco County line. Photo taken 03/23/14.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 4 west
The former configuration of I-4 west on its final mile. Interstate 275 makes a 90-degree turn at the forthcoming Downtown Interchange. Coming from the west near Tampa International Airport (TPA), I-275 turns due north at I-4, en route to Interstate 75 and Ocala. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (12/02).
Westbound Interstate 4 at Interstate 275; this was the last series of sign bridges. The busy interchange was reconstructed from October 27, 2002 to December 22, 2006. Exit 26 (now Exit 45A) for Downtown - East Jefferson Street referred to the first southbound ramp of I-275. Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
Interstate 275 travels a series of a viaducts north of Downtown Tampa through to the Downtown Interchange with Interstate 4 east (Exit 45B). Photo taken 07/10/11.
I-275 north reduces to two through lanes below the flyovers with I-4 as Exit 45B departs for Ybor City, Lakeland and Orlando. Photo taken 07/10/11.
Perspective from Interstate 275 south
The flyover for Interstate 4 east (Exit 46B) departs well in advance of the Downtown Interchange from I-275 south. Photo taken 03/23/14.
A distributor roadway departs I-275 south for Downtown East (Exit 45A) as the mainline reduces to two through lanes at the Downtown Interchange. Interstate 4 maintains six to eight overall lanes east by Ybor City on the nine mile trek to I-75 near Mango. Photo taken 03/23/14.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 275 south
Two miles north of the Downtown Interchange, this former guide sign referenced the I-4 east connection with I-75 south to Naples. Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
Interstate 275 south reduces to two lanes through the Downtown Interchange with I-4 east. Picture taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 275 south
An end sign for I-4 east resides 1.5 miles ahead of Exit 132, the freeway transition to Florida 400 (Beville Boulevard). Photo taken 07/27/13.
A single lane left-hand ramp, originally striped for two lanes, joins Interstate 95 north to St. Augustine, Jacksonville and points north. The mainline continues to I-95 south and SR 400 east. Photo taken 07/27/13.
An end Interstate 4 shield lines the transition ramp from I-4 east to I-95 north. Photo taken by Mark O'Neil (04/00).
Continuing east along Interstate 4, the right-hand lane defaults onto I-95 south to the Space Coast, Fort Lauderdale and Miami while the left-hand lane extends east as Exit 132 to Beville Boulevard and South Daytona. Photo taken 07/27/13.
A second end shield formally concludes the freeway ahead of a service station. Motorists that proceed eastward will reach U.S. 1 at South Daytona in three miles. Connecting roads (CR 4009 and SR 483) serve interests to Daytona International Speedway, Daytona International Airport and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Photo taken 11/04/06.
A wye interchange (Exit 260B) provides a high speed connection to Interstate 4 west for Orlando from Interstate 95 south. A three-quarter cloverleaf interchange joins the freeway end and Beville Boulevard (Florida 400 to the east) at Exit 260A. Photo taken 01/03/14.
Two lanes depart Interstate 95 south for I-4 west to DeLand, Deltona, Sanford and Orlando. All of I-4 carries at least six lanes by 2015. Photo taken 01/03/14.
An end shield for I-95 stands by the off-ramp from I-95 south to I-4 west. This sign caters to tourist traffic bound for the Orlando resort area, while Interstate 95 does not actually conclude for another 260 miles southward in Miami. Photo taken by Daniel Davis (06/08/03).
Historical Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Interstate 95 south at Interstate 4 when the sequential based exit numbering system was still in use. Photo taken by Garrett Hayman (11/02).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 south