Concerns raised after I-4 floods during heavy downpour

Rain in the forecast is leading to flooding concerns, after lanes of Interstate 4 were shut down on Thursday night during the downpours.

The conditions were so unsafe that an investigation is now underway and lawmakers are taking action.  Severe storms forced drivers to battle frightening flooding, unusable lanes and miles of traffic.

“We’re going into the rain season, so we can’t have flooding on I-4. It’d be a disaster for the region,” said Congressman Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee.

Now an investigation is underway to find out what caused the flooding by the Princeton Street exit and on local roads in the nearby College Park area. This is not the first time I-4 has had issues with flooding.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) met with I-4 Mobility Partners and contractor SGL on Friday morning to discuss next steps. FDOT released a statement that said, in part, “Initial focus is on the functionality of drainage inlets and underground piping in the specific construction area where flooding was an issue. Issues discovered…will be acted upon and corrected immediately by the contractor.”

FDOT said this will come at no cost to their department, and because of more rain in the forecast, extra crews and pumps will be on standby.

“Compared to some of the other oversight issues we’re working on with them, they’re showing a greater sense of urgency,” said Congressman Soto.

He recently drafted a letter to FDOT about falling behind schedule on completing I-4 construction. He now plans to send another letter Monday to stay on top of the flooding issue.

“What I worry mostly about is public safety you know, accidents and folks losing their lives because drainage issues weren’t taken care of.”

Congressman Soto says he’s also setting up a meeting with the U.S. Department of Transportation secretary and will be looking at issues in the next budget to ensure better and more prompt communication between lawmakers and FDOT.

Read the full FDOT statement here:

"The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is requiring action and accountability, as safety is a top priority for the department and an expectation by the traveling public.

"This morning, FDOT met with the leadership of I-4 Mobility Partners (project concessionaire) and SGL (project constructor).

"A full investigation is now underway as to the causes of flooding that occurred Thursday evening along the I-4 construction corridor in the College Park area.

"Flooding occurred on both the mainline interstate as well as along portions of the local road network that are a part of this project. Initial focus is on the functionality of drainage inlets and underground piping in the specific construction area where flooding was an issue.

"Issues discovered during the initial and longer-term review will be acted upon and corrected immediately by the contractor in an effort to reduce vulnerability to flooding.  

"This will be done at no cost to the Florida Department of Transportation. As more rain is in the immediate forecast, extra crews and pumps are on standby to correct deficiencies and speed response times.  

"Also during the meeting today, FDOT reinforced expectations that flooding should not occur and FDOT will closely monitor the completion of the investigation, development of action plans and oversee those actions being put into place."