Drivers test rush hour on new I-4 Express Lanes during free trial

Monday marked the first morning and evening rush hours for the new I-4 Express Lanes. They are currently open for all drivers and will operate toll-free through March 2.  

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Lt. Kim Montes is pretty surprised by what she’s seeing so far along the 21-mile stretch.  

"We didn’t’ see a high volume of traffic in there like we would expect for a Monday morning," Lt. Montes said. 

One big relief for troopers is that those who did test out the express lanes Monday seemed to be paying attention to a message that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had on their message boards along the interstate this morning that read, "Speeding enforced, 60 miles per hour."

Speeders kept FHP busy from 8 a.m. Saturday morning when the new lanes opened through Sunday. Troopers issued 77 speeding tickets in the Express Lanes. 

"We know from history that any time a new road opens or lanes get widened typically we see speed to up. We expected the speeders to take advantage of that," Lt. Montes said.  

The fastest driver they ticked was stopped after FHP clocked him at 101 miles per hour in the 60 mph zone, and he wasn’t the only speed demon. 

"We caught a driver in the upper 90s," Lt. Montes said. 

She said several speeding drivers told troopers they thought they could drive faster in the new lanes. 

The FHP wants to clear up any misconceptions of what the new Express Lanes are for.  

"Express Lane just means a lane that you will have when the congestion is such on the mainline you’ll have the option to pay to go on lanes that will probably not be as congested. That doesn’t mean you can go as fast as you want to go," Lt. Montes explained.  

The FDOT said, so far, things have been running smoothly in the new lanes. Saturday they recorded 190,000 transactions along the 21-mile stretch.  Sunday they recorded 260,000 transactions. 

The I-4 Express Lanes are free to drivers through Wednesday.  Thursday, drivers will have to pay to use the new lanes. Drivers will need to have a Florida-accepted transponder (such as E-PASS) to use the Express Lanes.  

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