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Interstate 4; Florida's Fury Road

One of the most significant highways that I wanted to photo-clinch on my recent Florida trip was the entirety of Interstate 4.


Interstate 4 is an approximately 132.3 mile Interstate Highway that carries the "almost completely hidden" designation of Florida State Road 400.  The current route of I-4 begins in Daytona Beach at I-95 and travels in a general southwesterly direction to I-275 at Malfunction Junction in Tampa.  I-4 more or less serves as a limited access replacement to US Route 92.  

The first segment of I-4 to open was between Plant City and Lakeland in 1959.  Originally I-4 extended west from Malfunction Junction (the current junction of I-4 at I-275) from Tampa and ended at Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.  This 1964 State Road map shows the incomplete I-4 entering St. Petersburg over Old Tampa Bay on the Howard Franklin Bridge.

1964 Florida State Road Map 

I-4 was slated to be extended over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge but it was ultimately replaced through St. Petersburg by I-75 in 1971.  I-4 was truncated to I-75 at Malfunction Junction in downtown Tampa in 1971 which later became I-275 by 1973.

I-4 as a route is something that I frequented in living in the Orlando Area from 2014 through 2016.  Despite numerous improvements and the present I-4 Ultimate project the route of I-4 is one of the busiest and most difficult limited access roads in the State of Florida.  It wasn't uncommon to hear news of all sorts of manner of wrecks and carnage hence the title of this blog "Florida's Fury Road."

My approach to I-4 westbound was from I-95 northbound in Daytona Beach.  The interchange between I-4/I-95 is currently undergoing reconstruction and provides access to FL 400 in addition to US 92.  The ramp to I-4 westbound in particular was difficult to locate at speed due to the poor construction signage.





I-4 west of I-95 to FL 44 is known as the "Dead Zone."  The I-4 Dead Zone travels through a remote part of Volusia County between Daytona Beach west to DeLand.  The I-4 Dead Zone was infamous for a high number of fatal accidents which generally trended higher than the rest of the highway.  The I-4 Dead Zone is infamous enough that it found it's way into popular culture and was featured as a haunted place several times (which is absurd...).  The I-4 Dead Zone was the last four-lane part of I-4 and was upgraded to a six-lane freeway in 2016-17.  I don't have statistics for accidents in 2017 or 2018 but I suspect that they dropped significantly following improvements. 



I-4 west passes under an overpass at Mile Marker 129 which accesses US 92 from I-4 east.


Past the US 92 overpass Orlando is signed 47 miles to the west and Tampa 127 miles on I-4.


At Exit 118 A&B I-4 west reaches the end of the Dead Zone at FL 44 on the outskirts of DeLand.


The I-4 Road Ranger program is first signed west of FL 44.  I'm uncertain if the Road Ranger program services the Dead Zone area to the east.


The Lake Helen Historic District is accessible from I-4 west Exit 116.



The Orange City Historic District and Blue Springs State Park are signed as being accessible from I-4 Exit 114/Howard Boulevard.



I-4 west ascends over Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River to the Seminole County line.  This particular section of I-4 is signed as the "St. Johns River Memorial Bridge."




I-4 west meets US 17/92 on Seminole Boulevard at Exit 104.


The Sanford Historic District is accessible via FL 46 at I-4 Exit 101C.


I-4 west in Sanford meets FL 417 and CR 46A at Exits 101A and B.


West of FL 417 the route of I-4 passes under a Florida Trail overpass.


West of Williamson Road I-4 approaches the Seminole County Rest Area.  The Polk County Rest Area is signed as 49 miles to the west on I-4.





At Exit 94 access to Wekiwa Springs State Park is provided via FL 434.



FL 434 serves as the eastern extent of the I-4 Ultimate Project.  The I-4 Ultimate Project extends 21 miles westward on I-4 to FL 435 through the Orlando Metro Area.  The I-4 Ultimate Project will ultimately widen the freeway and add variable-express toll lanes.  The I-4 Ultimate Project is being managed by I-4 Mobility Partners and broke ground in February of 2015.  The I-4 Ultimate Project has a deadline of March 2021 to be completed.

At Exit 92 I-4 west reaches FL 436/Semoran Boulevard in Altamonte Springs.  FL 436/Semoran Boulevard is signed as access to the University of Central Florida.




West of FL 436 I-4 enters Orange County.  In Maitland I-4 west has a junction with FL 414/Maitland Boulevard at Exit 90.




In Fairview Shores I-4 west reaches FL 423/Lee Road at Exit 88.  The Eatonville Historic District is signed as being accessible from Exit 88.  Over height trucks are directed to pull off of I-4 west on Exit 88 and proceed to US 17/92.



Entering the City of Orlando the alignment of I-4 west is being heavily shifted.  Even during mid-day traffic started grinding to a halt amid the massive lane shifts.




At Exit 84A I-4 west meets FL 50/US 17/US 92 on Colonial Drive in downtown Orlando.  Ivanhoe Boulevard is accessible from Exit 84B.






I almost used this picture below as the blog cover west of Colonial Drive.  I thought it captured the huge scope of the I-4 Ultimate Project.


As I-4 west approaches FL 408/East-West Expressway through downtown Orlando the new Stack Interchange is an obvious new feature.  The current interchange is substandard and often leads to accidents caused by back ups from the ramps.  FL 408 west in particular had a pretty infamous bottleneck onto I-4 that would back up sometimes for miles amid an otherwise free-flowing limited access toll road.  The FL 408 Stack Interchange is part of the I-4 Ultimate Project.  FL 408 is located at Exit 82A while access to the Amway Center is signed at Exit 82B.











Access to US 17 north/US 441 north/US 92 east is provided via Exit 81 at Michigan Street.


US 17 south/US 441 south/US 92 are more directly accessed on Orange Blossom Trail at I-4 west Exit 80.



FL 423/CR 423 on John Young Parkway can be accessed via I-4 west Exit 79.




The Mall at Millenia and Holy Land Experience can be accessed from I-4 west Exit 78.


At Exit 77 I-4 west meets Florida's Turnpike.


At Exit 75 I-4 west junctions FL 434 on Kirkman Road.


I-4 west meets FL 482/Sand Lake Road at Exit 74A.  West of FL 482 the I-4 Ultimate Project concludes and normal traffic flow on I-4 west resumes.



Sea World is accessible along with access to Orlando International Airport via I-4 west Exit 72 for FL 528.



Immediately west of FL 528 the distances to the I-75 and I-275 junctions on I-4 are signed.  I-75 is shown as 62 miles to the west while I-275 is shown as 71 miles.


Approaching Exit 68 for FL 535/Apopka-Vineland Road I-4 west is given copious advisories of where to exit for Disney World attractions.




I-4 west Exit 67 accesses Epcot and FL 536.


At I-4 west Exit 65 there is access to Osceola Parkway, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.


I-4 west enters Osceola County and junctions US 192 at Exit 64.




General Disney World access is signed from I-4 west Exit 62.  There is a unique power line set up immediately west of the freeway in the shape of Mickey Mouse.



At I-4 west Exit 60 there is access to FL 429.


I-4 west meets CR 532/Osceola-Polk County Line Road at Exit 58 before entering Polk County.



Traffic towards Lego Land is directed to use US 27 located at I-4 west Exit 55.




West of US 27 the route of I-4 enters the Green Swamp.  The Green Swamp is the greatest point of divergence from US 92 which essentially acts as a direct route between Orlando west to Lakeland.  Upon entering the Green Swamp there is signage indicating that Tampa is 51 miles to the west on I-4.


I-4 west meets CR 557 at Exit 48.


At Mile Marker 47 the path of I-4 west has access to the Polk County Rest Area.  There is a small display piece at the Rest Area describing the large wetland habitat of the Green Swamp.









At I-4 west Exit 44 there is access to the Van Fleet Trail which traverses the Green Swamp via FL 559.



At Exit 41 the route of I-4 west meets the eastern terminus of FL 570/Polk Parkway.


I-4 west meets FL 33 at Exit 38.


I-4 west meets FL 33 again at Exit 38.  Exit 33 also serves as general access to CR 582.


In Lakeland I-4 west meets US 98 at Exit 32.



The Munn Park Historic District is shown accessible via FL 539 at I-4 west Exit 31.



Access to US 92 via Galloway Road is signed from I-4 west at Exit 28.


I-4 west meets the western terminus of FL 570 at Exit 27.


Access to the Florida Air Museum is signed at County Line Road at I-4 west Exit 25.  I-4 west enters Hillsborough County at County Line Road.



I-4 west meets FL 39 and FL 39A at Exit 21.


At I-4 west Exit 19 there is a junction for FL 566 via Thonotosassa Road.


West of FL 566 the route of I-4 west has a weigh station approaching Tampa.




At I-4 west Exit 10 there is access to Hillsborough River State Park via CR 579.



I-4 west meets I-75 at Exit 9 in Mango.



I-4 west crosses the Hillsborough River and reaches US 301 at Exit 7.  Access to Busch Gardens is signed via US 92 on Hillsborough Avenue.



At I-4 Exit 5 there is a junction for FL 574 on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.


I-4 west enters the City of Tampa and meets US 41/50th Street at Exit 3.


 I-4 west Exit 2 is signed as a connector stub to the Selmon Expressway/FL 618.



The Ybor City Historic District is signed as being accessible from I-4 Exit 1 via 22nd Street.


I-4 west terminates at Malfunction Junction/I-275 in downtown Tampa.






As stated at the beginning I-4 originally ended in St. Petersburg and was intended to cross the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  The previous route of I-4 to St. Petersburg can be viewed on my previous I-275 blog.

Interstate 275

My personal opinion is that while I-75 made some sense being routed to St. Petersburg given it is a mainline Interstate replacing it with a three digit route is an odd choice.  It seems to me that it would have been more simple to have I-4 stay on the route it was intended rather than flipping numbers around.  I suppose the argument is rendered mute now considering all the Florida Interstates have moved to mileage based Exit numbers.

Of note the center median of I-4 between Orlando and Tampa was once slated to be part of  the Florida High Speed Rail.  The Florida High Speed Rail was approved by voters in 2000 before being cancelled in 2004.  The project was revived with the promise of Federal Funds in 2009 but it was ultimately rejected by the State of Florida. 

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