I-4 Beyond The Ultimate

February 2018

* Public Invited to Open House To Learn About Mid-block U-turns at Rinehart Road and CR 46A on March 8
* Major Improvements Coming to Sand Lake Road Interchange
* Construction Career Days Showcases Job Opportunities for Graduating Students

Public Invited to Open House To Learn About Mid-block U-turns at Rinehart Road and CR 46A on March 8

Construction will begin this fall on an innovative intersection known as a mid-block U-turn at Rinehart Road and H.E. Thomas Jr. Parkway (County Road [C.R.] 46A) in the Lake Mary/Sanford area. It will be the first intersection of its kind in Central Florida.

The public will have a chance to learn the details at an open house next month. Hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the meeting will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. The hotel is located at 1501 International Parkway in Lake Mary.

Maps, drawings and other relevant information will be available for review. The open-house format allows attendees to visit any time between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. FDOT staff and others associated with the project will be available to answer questions. There will not be a formal presentation.

The mid-block U-turn, which is part of FDOT’s I-4 Beyond the Ultimate project, will help traffic flow smoothly and safely in the area near the interchange of Interstate 4 (I-4) and C.R. 46A. The project will eliminate all left turns across oncoming traffic at the C.R. 46A and Rinehart Road intersection. Instead, motorists will use two new signalized mid-block U-turns on Rinehart Road – one located about 500 feet north and the other about 500 feet south of the C.R. 46A intersection – to turn in their desired direction.

Although motorists will drive a little farther to make their turns, engineers have found that the arrangement allows them to get through the intersection in less time. Generally, mid-block U-turns also increase traffic capacity by 20 to 50 percent by reducing the number of signal phases at the intersection.

Mid-block U-turns also improve safety by decreasing the likelihood of a crash at the intersection by eliminating left-turns in front of oncoming traffic. Studies cited by the Federal Highway Administration and state departments of transportation show that the number of reported crashes at these mid-block intersections was 20 to 50 percent lower than comparable conventional intersections. The arrangement also lowers the probability of severe crashes, including dangerous right angle or “T” crashes by 50 to 70 percent.

Seminole County and the City of Lake Mary consider this intersection improvement so important to the area that both governments are advancing the funds needed for this piece of the I-4 BtU project. Because of that support, construction is expected to start earlier than previously scheduled. The state will then reimburse the local governments in 2026.


Major Improvements Coming to Sand Lake Road Interchange

The busy Sand Lake Road (State Road 482) interchange will get a major makeover to increase traffic flow and roadway safety as part of the I-4 Beyond the Ultimate project. Construction is scheduled to start in this segment in 2020.

Currently, about 70,000 vehicles a day travel through or very near the interchange. In order to deal with current traffic and accommodate future needs, the interchange will be reconfigured in a more efficient arrangement known as a modified diverging diamond. In conjunction with that change, Turkey Lake Road also will be improved.

The diverging diamond interchange is becoming more common because its design eliminates several traffic conflict points. It does so by moving drivers to the side of the road where they can turn left without having to cross in front of oncoming traffic.

That increases safety and the free flow of traffic. It shortens the length of traffic signals and helps eliminate congestion created when motorists must wait for backed-up intersections to clear before they can turn left.

Although a map of the diverging diamond route may look a little unusual at first, motorists find the experience of driving through the diverging diamond to be easy and convenient. The Sand Lake Road interchange is known as a modified diverging diamond because it also includes an access ramp from Sand Lake Road to Turkey Lake Road.

Motorists traveling eastbound on Sand Lake Road will no longer be able to turn left onto Turkey Lake Road. Instead, they can take an access ramp. It will loop around, pass over Sand Lake Road and lead to a spot south of the Phillips Crossing Shopping Center. At the end of the access ramp, drivers can continue north or south on Turkey Lake Road.

To accommodate the changes and minimize congestion, a third lane will be added to northbound Turkey Lake Road between the access ramp and Sand Lake Road.


Construction Career Days Showcases Job Opportunities for Graduating Students


Nearly 3,000 junior and senior high school students started building their careers at the 18th annual Central Florida Construction Career Days. The event, hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and its industry partners, helped teenagers explore and build a strong foundation for a successful future in transportation construction projects such as the I-4 Ultimate project.

“Construction Career Days is a fantastic way to introduce the builders and tradespeople of tomorrow to our industry today,” said Dora Rockefeller, FDOT District 5 Contract Manager and co-chair of the event.

Junior and senior high school students from more than 50 high schools in Brevard, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties attended the event. Students learned about the many available opportunities and experienced some skilled trades firsthand. Engineers and skilled trade workers from local firms, technical schools and FDOT held more than 30 interactive learning labs. Students even tried their hand at operating heavy equipment and simulators.

Construction opportunities represented through the program are not minimum wage jobs, but rather steady careers. “Those in the field who have skills and experience earn an average of about $18 an hour,” said Geoff Scales, Senior Project Manager with Hubbard Construction Company and co-chair of the event. “These are careers that you can grow with. If you’ve got the ambition and the drive, you can build a career in the construction industry and go far.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of jobs in the construction field will grow by nearly 22 percent over the next few years, but the current labor pool is shrinking with the average skilled worker retiring at close to 50 years old. That’s why Construction Career Days encourages graduating high school students to explore the wide variety of opportunities available in the transportation construction industry.

Construction Career Days was held at the Central Florida Fairgrounds on January 25 and 26 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.