ORLANDO, Fla. -- A major traffic shift is coming to westbound Interstate 4 in just a matter of days, and it's happening in the heart of downtown Orlando.
- Long stretch of permanent 'I-4 Ultimate' lanes to open this weekend
- Starting Saturday, I-4 traffic will be shifted on to new bridge
- Crews will need to close I-4 westbound exit to South Orange Blossom Trail
- MAP: Westbound I-4 shift between Gore Street and Orange Blossom Trail scheduled for June 2 (PDF)
The longest stretch yet of new, permanent lanes in the "I-4 Ultimate" project is slated to open this weekend between Gore Street (which is just past State Road 408) and Orange Blossom Trail -- a stretch of about 1 1/2 miles.
That means starting Saturday, I-4 traffic will be shifted onto a new bridge.
"The great thing about construction is, we build something, then we move folks onto the new stuff and then we demo (demolish) the old stuff and work on the old stuff," said Jessica Ottaviano of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Some of the area's exit ramps may be affected more than the through lanes of I-4 itself. For example, if you drive on I-4 westbound using the Michigan Street off-ramp, you will now have to exit a half-mile later.
"The great thing about opening this new westbound shift is that it allows drivers to not interfere with other people entering from lower side streets," Ottaviano said.
For example, motorists who use the Gore Street on-ramp to I-4 will no longer have to merge with traffic exiting to Michigan Street before entering I-4.
One of the big changes occurring this weekend is the new ramp from Kaley Street, which gives you the option to continue to I-4 westbound or continue straight along a road that will lead you to Michigan Street.
In addition to the closures, over the weekend, crews will have to close the I-4 westbound exit to South Orange Blossom Trail. Other multiple ramps and roadways will also be closed intermittently over the weekend.