I4 in Orlando

As Orlando grew in the 1970s and 1980s, traffic became a growing concern, especially after the construction of the original interchange with the East–West Expressway in 1973, which proved to become a principal bottleneck. The term “highway hostages” was coined in the 1980s to describe people stuck in long commutes to and from Orlando on I-4.

In the early-to-mid 1990s, several interchanges near Kissimmee were constructed or upgraded to accommodate increasing traffic going to and from Walt Disney World. However, I-4′s main lanes were not widened in the process. Around the same time, the Southern Connector was extended to I-4

The St. Johns River Veterans Memorial Bridge, a two-span, six-lane replacement to the original four-lane bridge over the St. Johns River northeast of Orlando, was completed in 2004.

During the early 2000s, tolled express lanes were being planned in the Orlando area as a traffic congestion relief technique for rush hour commuters. The name for them was to be Xpress 400, numbered after the state road designation for I-4. The express lanes were slated to extend from Universal Orlando, east to SR 434 in Longwood, and tolls were to be collected electronically via transponders like SunPass and Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority’s E-Pass, with prices dependent on the congestion of the eight main lanes. However, the project was effectively banned by the passage of the SAFETEA-LU Federal transportation bill in 2005, introduced by U.S. Representative John Mica. The plan for tolled express lanes, however, is still in the long term plans for I-4.[18]

The eastbound exit to Robinson Street (SR 526) permanently closed on April 25, 2006, to make way for construction of the new eastbound onramp from SR 408.[19] The westbound offramp to Gore Street was permanently closed in the same project on 2008-2011.

The new overpass from I-4 west to John Young Parkway (County Road 423, CR 423) opened the morning of April 27, 2006

2008 Pileup

On January 9, 2008, 70 vehicles were involved in a large pileup on I-4 near Polk City. The pileup was caused by an unexpected thick morning fog that was mixed with a scheduled—and approved—environmental burn by the Florida Wildlife Commission. The fog drifted across I-4, mixing with the smoke, reducing visibility to near-zero conditions. Four people were killed, and 38 were injured. The section of I-4 did not re-open until the next day, January 10