I-4 Beyond The Ultimate

August 2020

* Upcoming Public Hearing Offers Information on Design Projects near ChampionsGate
* Traffic Shifts on E.E. Williamson Road
* Teamwork, Timing and Expert Planning Make for Successful Concrete Pour on Bridge in Seminole County
* Remember to Drive Safely as School Year Begins
* Construction Spotlight: Kim Navarro

Upcoming Public Hearing Offers Information on Design Projects near ChampionsGate

Bird's eye view of new ChampionsGate

Congestion relief for a burgeoning area of Interstate 4 (I-4) in Osceola County is on the horizon.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Osceola County are inviting the public to a hearing regarding interim design plans for improvements to I-4 and County Road (C.R.) 532 near ChampionsGate.

The public hearing will be held on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at 5:30 p.m.

The Department is offering two ways for the community to participate in the hearing. Interested persons may join the Virtual Public Hearing (VPH) from a computer, tablet or phone. Or, they may participate in person by going to the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in the Osceola County Conference Center, 1500 Masters Blvd., ChampionsGate. All participants, regardless of platform they choose, will participate in the same live hearing.

A VPH is a free, live presentation or webinar over the internet. If you wish to participate in the VPH online from an electronic device or by phone, please register in advance by going to: www.I4Beyond.com/ChampionsGate. Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the VPH online. To participate in the public hearing over the phone, call 844-276-FDOT (3368).

The design projects that will be discussed include:

  • I-4 and C.R. 532 Interchange Reconfiguration: Design plans reconfigure the I-4 and C.R. 532 interchange to a diverging diamond interchange (DDI). This is a joint project between Osceola County and FDOT. The county is designing the project, and FDOT will oversee its construction. A DDI removes turns across oncoming traffic. This is a safety and operational improvement project. The project will also add bike lanes and sidewalks along C.R. 532 for improved bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and safety. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2021.
  • I-4 Auxiliary Lane Additions: The project includes the addition of new eastbound and westbound I-4 auxiliary lanes, one in each direction, between the ramps of State Road (S.R.) 429 and C.R. 532, as well as an auxiliary lane on northbound S.R. 429 between I-4 and Sinclair Road. This is an FDOT project. The westbound I-4 exit ramp and the eastbound I-4 entrance ramp at the C.R. 532 interchange will also be widened to two lanes to increase traffic flow and capacity. The project includes milling and resurfacing S.R. 429 between I-4 and Sinclair Road. Construction is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2021.
  • I-4 Milling and Resurfacing: This project will mill and resurface eastbound and westbound I-4 from the Polk-Osceola County line to west of S.R. 417. This is an FDOT project. Construction is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2021.

For more information about the I-4 design projects at ChampionsGate, visit I4Beyond.com/ChampionsGate.


Traffic Shifts on E.E. Williamson Road

Construciton on E.E. Williamson Road

Motorists should be advised that the left turn lanes on E.E. Williamson Road between Penelope Drive and Sunshine Tree Boulevard are closed for the next six to eight months.

Access to all side streets and driveways will be maintained throughout the scheduled work.

The long-term closures began earlier this month and are necessary to implement a new traffic pattern on E.E. Williamson Road.

When the new bridge is fully completed in mid-2021, the left turn lanes will be restored.

Please continue to use caution while driving through the active construction zone. Note that construction schedules may change due to weather or other circumstances.

For more project information visit the project website at fdot.tips/Seminole.


Teamwork, Timing and Expert Planning Make for Successful Concrete Pour on Bridge in Seminole County

Pouring concrete

It takes a team to build a bridge. Actually, it takes several teams. And each must be aware of the others’ duties and the shared timetable for safety’s sake and success.

Since the pumping, pouring, and smoothing of tons of concrete on bridges usually take place overnight – as occurred on the E.E. Williamson bridge during late nights and early mornings last month – the public rarely sees the complex planning and teamwork that occurs.

But a peek behind the scenes reveals the intricate interweaving of tasks, people, and heavy machinery, all on a tight overnight schedule.

The concrete pour on the E.E. Williamson bridge was part of an even larger plan to completely rebuild the bridge section-by-section to create better traffic flow and easier access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

On the night of the concrete pour, the team also included law enforcement officers who monitored lane closures to keep the work from disrupting nighttime traffic and to prevent cars and trucks from impeding the work.

Meanwhile, managers oversaw the entry and exit of concrete-mixer trucks with the goal of keeping the pumping machines operating without interruption. Typically, the powerful pumps used in Interstate 4 (I-4) rebuild projects in Central Florida can empty a concrete-mixer truck in just a few minutes.

As concrete flowed to the bridge from pipes and booms, workers started to even it up with handheld tools. Behind them, a massive deck-smoothing device moved back and forth, leveling the concrete with measured precision. Known as bridge deck finishers or deck screeds, these machines can weigh more than 10,000 pounds and can take two days to assemble and test before using it on wet concrete.

In some ways, the machines resemble giant squeegees or trowels that can make 100-foot-long swipes to level the surface for an improved and safer roadway.

At sunrise, the work transformed into ensuring that trucks, pumps, work zone barriers, lighting equipment and other devices were removed and secured before the morning rush on Interstate 4 (I-4) began.


Remember to Drive Safely as School Year Begins

Girl leaving school bus at bus stop

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) always encourages safe driving, but it is especially important to be safe and vigilant during the school year.

There are several ways motorists can make roadways a safe place for everyone during the school year:

  • Be alert and watch for children, especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.
  • Pay extra attention and follow lower speed limits in school zones.
  • Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
  • Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.
  • Slow down and prepare to stop when approaching a school bus with yellow flashing lights.
  • Stop when approaching a school bus with its STOP arms extended and red flashing lights.
  • Never pass a school bus with flashing lights, STOP arms extended, loading or unloading children from either direction unless driving in the opposite direction of the bus when on a divided highway.

With school starting back soon, motorists must stay alert in work zones as well. Children and buses travel through road construction sites, including bridges, highways, and local road projects.

When traveling through school and work zones – put down your phone. In Florida, it is a primary offense to handle a wireless communication device while operating a vehicle in a school or work zone. You can be stopped and fined for simply having a phone in your hand.

Other things to avoid in school zones include:

  • Changing lanes
  • U-turns
  • Passing other vehicles
  • Blocking crosswalks
  • Loading or unloading children across the street from schools

By being alert and taking the necessary precautions, motorists can make the school year a safer one for both students and other motorists.

For more back-to-school safety tips, visit https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/child-safety/school-bus-safety/.


Construction Spotlight: Kim Navarro

Kim Navarro enjoys multitasking on big ventures. That’s key to his success.

As project manager on four I-4 Beyond the Ultimate interim projects in Seminole County, he oversees quality-control inspections of the work and the materials.

And if that wasn’t enough, he also happens to be the construction project administrator for Section Five of the Wekiva Parkway project in Lake County. Additional duties there include managing work schedules, checking safety procedures, and keeping all projects progressing steadily.

Fortunately, he comes well prepared. Before starting work with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Navarro strengthened those skills through pressure-packed jobs at Epcot and in the Navy Reserve. “I learned a lot watching others manage their challenges and trying to understand their approaches,” he said.

A native New Yorker, Navarro moved to Orlando to study civil engineering at the University of Central Florida. Before graduating, though, he decided to train as a chef and was hired to work at Epcot’s Canadian Pavilion.

Demanding kitchen bosses, customers with high expectations, and hungry crowds at food festivals gave him a crash course in professionalism. “I learned a lot about accountability,” he said. About the same time, he also joined the Navy Reserve. As a petty officer first class, he went around the world helping load ships – often hospital ships that were needed urgently.

In California, England, Germany, Kuwait, Djibouti, and other places, he operated cranes under tight deadlines. “It was a mad scramble sometimes, but I learned about managing under all types of conditions.”

Later, he studied mechanical drafting at Valencia Community College and took a job with PSI, where he trained as a construction inspector in 1995. A year later, he continued that career path with FDOT, working throughout Central Florida.

Today, managing four projects in Seminole County seems a natural step for Navarro. And not even the fifth project on the Wekiva Parkway makes him feel put upon. “It’s better to be busy,” he said.

Away from work, Navarro likes spending time with family. His two sons also work in the construction, inspection, and safety industry. A New York Yankees fan, Navarro once took a trip through several northeastern states with his wife, so she could see a favorite band from her native England – Depeche Mode – playing on tour. And so, he could watch his hometown Yankees.