I-4 Beyond The Ultimate

September 2021

* Pond Construction Underway at ChampionsGate
* FDOT Recognizes National Roundabouts Week
* Quiz: Advantages of Roundabouts
* Additional Roadway Projects Coming to I-4 near ChampionsGate
* Beyond the Ultimate Spotlight: Mahmoud Heda, Senior Inspector

Pond Construction Underway at ChampionsGate


Motorists driving around the Interstate 4 (I-4) interchange at County Road 532 near ChampionsGate will notice that construction is underway.

The I-4 Beyond the Ultimate project is transforming the interchange into a diverging diamond interchange (DDI). Part of the work includes the construction of a new drainage pond on the southwest corner of the interchange, between I-4 and the westbound entrance ramp.

Drainage ponds are an important part of major construction projects in Florida. They collect and retain runoff water, releasing it in a controlled manner with frequency and flow rates that simulate natural conditions. Heavy volumes can be held to prevent or mitigate impacts downstream. These ponds also help with pollutant removal.

Planning, design, and construction of ponds starts with research and modeling.

“Hydrology and storm models are used to determine where and how big a pond is,” said Mahmoud Heda, assistant project administrator with the project team. “It is based on multiple factors, such as the roads, parking lots, open land, woods, etc., around the area.”

In the planning and design stage of any construction project, storm models are used to calculate a combination of 100-year storms, which are the most severe weather events expected in a typical century, and other, less severe storms happening in a defined amount of time. These models use historical data established by water management districts. Once the size of necessary drainage ponds has been determined, final pond locations can be selected.

The construction of the pond utilizes bulldozers and excavators, with a loader to help move earth away from the job site. In some cases, groundwater may also need to be removed as it comes up during construction.

Construction of the ChampionsGate DDI at the I-4 interchange is expected to be completed in fall of 2022.


FDOT Recognizes National Roundabouts Week


Join the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in recognizing National Roundabouts Week September 20–24.

Roundabouts are a proven safety countermeasure because they can substantially reduce crashes that result in serious injury or death. National Roundabouts Week provides an opportunity to shine a light on the safety and efficiency of modern roundabouts, as well as share driving tips and safety facts.

To learn more about roundabouts in Central Florida, visit FDOT’s roundabout toolkit at FDOT.tips/Roundabout or the FDOT Roundabouts 101 playlist on YouTube.

What Is a Roundabout?

Roundabouts are circular intersections where traffic moves counterclockwise around a center island with no traffic signal. Vehicles already in the intersection have the right of way, while entering traffic yields to pedestrians and traffic already in the intersection.

Roundabouts can be safer than some traditional intersections and can shorten travel times for both drivers and pedestrians. As motorists move through the roundabout in the same direction, the chance of a potential head-on collision is greatly reduced.The FHWA states that roundabouts have been shown to reduce the number of fatal and severe injury crashes by 78 percent to 82 percent compared to a stop-controlled intersection or a signalized intersection.

How to Use a Roundabout

While navigating intersections comes naturally to most drivers, some might not be as used to using roundabouts. Before entering the roundabout, drivers should slow down and yield to any pedestrians or cyclists attempting to cross in crosswalks. Also, before entering, drivers should yield to traffic within the roundabout. While driving through the roundabout, drivers should stay in their lane and then exit when needed. If an emergency vehicle approaches, drivers should continue through the roundabout before pulling over, as they would if they were crossing an intersection during that situation.


Quiz: Advantages of Roundabouts

Take a quiz  and test your knowledge on advantages of roundabouts.

Roundabouts can provide numerous benefits over traditional intersections and have quickly become a regular sight around Florida. What do you think are some advantages of roundabouts? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.


Additional Roadway Projects Coming to I-4 near ChampionsGate


As work continues to reconfigure the Interstate 4 (I-4) and County Road (C.R.) 532 interchange near ChampionsGate, additional I-4 roadwork projects are set to begin this fall in Osceola County. Last month’s newsletter covered the addition of auxiliary lanes to I-4 and State Road (S.R.) 429 with construction anticipated to begin later this year.

In addition to the auxiliary lanes, work will begin later this year on milling and resurfacing eastbound and westbound I-4 from the Polk/Osceola County line to west of S.R. 417. The project also includes milling and resurfacing S.R. 429 between I-4 and Sinclair Road. Milling and resurfacing will create a smoother roadway for motorists and extend the life of the pavement.

To keep the ride on I-4 smooth, periodic milling and resurfacing of the asphalt is important to make repairs that can lengthen the lifespan of the road. Resurfacing is necessary when the asphalt surface has reached the end of its service life or if other methods of restoration cannot repair the roadway. A new asphalt surface will improve driving conditions as well as the aesthetics of the roadway.

Careful planning is required to complete hundreds of miles of lane resurfacing. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducts annual surveys of the entire state highway system. The data collected is used to assess the condition and performance of each roadway and predict future rehabilitation needs.

For more information on the planned improvements on I-4 in Osceola County, visit I4Beyond.com/ChampionsGate.


Beyond the Ultimate Spotlight: Mahmoud Heda, Senior Inspector

As a young man planning his career path, Mahmoud Heda decided that working on roads and bridges as a civil engineer was perfectly suited for him. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to work at a desk all day.

Now, as a senior inspector working on the I-4 Beyond the Ultimate team, he savors his time spent on the construction sites.

“I always wanted to be out in the field,” Heda said. “When you’re out in the field, you’re looking at the conditions, watching the job and making sure it’s done right.”

Heda is an assistant project administrator and currently works on the project to reconfigure the Interstate 4 and County Road 532 interchange near ChampionsGate in Osceola County to a diverging diamond interchange.

As senior inspector, he reviews the materials and the work to make sure everything meets expectations. That includes quality control testing of the asphalt and the concrete or soil density testing to make sure the site is steady enough for construction of a highway on-ramp.

“Everything out here is subject to verification,” he explained. “We do random tests at random intervals to test the numbers, and then we have to record that everything was done properly.”

A native of Orlando, Heda graduated from Freedom High School, where he took classes that introduced him to the different types of engineering. Then, at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he completed a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he took a deeper dive into the various disciplines.

“I’m really good at math and have an analytical mind,” he said. “In my first year at UCF, I took two semesters about the differing kinds of engineering: mechanical, chemical, electrical, industrial.”

“But civil engineering spoke to me,” he said.

He also knew there would be plenty of work for him close to home, with the need for a safe, secure, and reliable transportation infrastructure to support Central Florida’s robust economy.

During a college internship, he worked on a road that he drove daily — the stretch of State Road 417 between Alafaya Trail and University Boulevard. He later worked at construction sites for the Beachline Expressway.

“Now when I drive around, I remember that I worked on that bridge. I know that pond. I know that ramp,” he said. “That’s the fun part.”

Outside of work, Heda is settling into life as a newlywed with his wife, who is also a civil engineer. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing and is also active with local soccer and volleyball leagues.