Another element of the "I-4 Ultimate" project was unveiled and opened Wednesday that could be a game-changer for Orlando's entertainment district.
- Grand National Drive I-4 overpass opened Wednesday
- Overpass flies over I-4 at Major Boulevard, International Drive
- 1,000 vehicles expected to travel new overpass every hour
It's a new overpass for both vehicles and pedestrians on Grand National Drive that flies over Interstate 4 between Major Boulevard and the northern corridor of International Drive. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning to commemorate the opening.
One of the speakers at the event, Alejandro Pezzini, might have said it best when he described the new Grand National Drive overpass as not only a simple connection between two sides of I-4, but an economic bridge between the I-Drive corridor and the Universal attractions area.
A thousand vehicles are expected to travel on this new overpass every hour, but it will see its fair share of walkers and bikers as well.
"Not only are we adding vehicular capacity to get over the interstate, but we are also adding sidewalks on both sides which are eight feet wide, which are fairly wide sidewalks. So we will have pedestrians and vehicles able to cross over," I-4 Ultimate Project Manager Loreen Bobo said.
This is one of the I-4 Ultimate’s main bonus features added to the project. The other main features include the Maitland Boulevard pedestrian overpass and the crown jewel of the project, the I-4 and State Road 408 interchange.
Investors say the impact this bridge will have is high from the businesses on Grand National even now in development.
"We have 68 million visitors and a large portion of them interacts somewhere along this corridor,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “So being able to not having to go through the Kirkman interchange and to be able to go directly across really is an economic benefit... and a quality-of-life benefit as well."
It is something the city is very excited about.
"This is a project that the city has long had on its drawing boards, so to be able to do that as part of the I-4 Ultimate Project is really beneficial for the large planning we'll be doing,” Dyer said.
Eventually, when the project is finished, officials said the overpass will connect to the new I-4 express lanes creating a path between the top of the overpass to and from I-4.