For the last few years, when I am not on MIX 105.1 I monitor traffic on all of our major highways, toll roads, and arterial roads for the Regional Traffic Management Center. What I’ve learned is that your morning commute on I-4 is a pattern that you can set your clocks to. With the I-4 Ultimate project underway this pattern may be disrupted, but until we see bulldozers moving earth what you are about to read will shave off minutes from your morning drive in.

Let me breakdown Westbound I-4: Unless you get on the highway before 7am count on being stuck in congestion because of the 3 problematic areas. Lake Mary Blvd, in between SR-436 & Maitland Blvd (Mile Marker 91, and the newest slow-down is at Lee Road (Mile Marker 88). By 7:35 those 3 congested areas fill in and expand to create a 10 mile delay. Once you pass Lee Rd your are back up to speed until you reach the 408 ramp. From the 408 ramps, traffic builds growing beyond Anderson. The other problem spot headed westbound on I-4 is at Mile-Marker 77 the Florida Turnpike overpass. Traffic will build at that overpass for what appears to be no reason and slow you down back to Conroy or some days John Young Parkway.

Steve Olson with FDOT suggests, “Check out SunRail to see if that works for you. If that is not an option…perhaps adjusting your work schedule or adding some pad time to your commute.  Perhaps alternate routes…SR 417 or others. Our website I4 Ultimate.com is helpful,  where you can sign up for alerts.”

Let me breakdown Eastbound I-4: The morning pattern on the eastbound side is a bit tricky yet very predictable. Again, if you are an early commuter before 7am you should clear, but since the majority of us are not here is where the problematic areas are. Depending on weather, on a clear morning the sun will be in your eyes at (Mile Marker 79) John Young Parkway and slow you down back to Conroy. Once you pass J.Y.P, commuters are dealing with on coming commuters from tight on-ramps from Michigan St. and Kaley St. while many are attempting to exit at the 408 ramp (Mile Marker 82A). On the eastbound side of I-4 by 7:35 you are tapping the breaks at the Amelia St exit 83A and that will fill in with the slowdowns at the 408 ramps which have connected with John Young delay that in many mornings you are fighting traffic from Conroy Rd (Mile Marker 78) to the Amelia St exit 83A which may not seem like a lot compared to the 10 mile delay as stated on the westbound side, but crawling on the highway be it 10 miles or 3 miles is still frustrating.

As this 21 mile I4 Ultimate project ramps up this pattern will have shifted and changed, but the point is you can avoid it with smart commuting. Alternate roads, carpooling, and SunRail should be our new way of thinking when dealing with I-4. This will be a 6 year project. If you can’t deal with the congestion at this point check back with me during year number 3.

Again, I’d like to reiterate. This is just a pattern that I have monitored/observed as a traffic operator during the morning commute Only during dry conditions. The afternoon drive pattern is a different beast on it’s own and let’s not mention how bad our roads get when it rains.

More ways to be a smart commuter use:

  • Florida 511 Traveler Information app for iPhone or Android devices.
  • Waze app is a free social mobile app that enables drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation for an optimal commute.
  • Traffic Land you see real time traffic on all of our highways from the FDOT cameras.
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