New I-4 express lanes open

FDOT opened the new I-4 express lanes two hours ahead of schedule, Saturday morning. The dedicated lanes run from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to just east of SR-434 in Seminole County. "Ours are express lanes, where we actually have two dedicated lanes in each direction that go that direction all times of the day," explained FDOT spokeswoman Jessica Ottaviano.

There are 16 access points along the route, so Ottaviano says it isn’t ideal for short trips. "It’s not meant for drivers going from exit to exit, it’s meant for drivers to go a little bit longer distance. So there are exits that you’ll need to look and see if it makes sense for your route, and for some people it may make sense if you’re going to Maitland to go a little bit further and then come back that way."

FHP says they'll be actively patrolling the 21-mile stretch area for speeders It will cost driver $0.50 per segment and up to $3.50 the whole way. Ottaviano gave some tips on using the new lanes. "You should not make a U-turn or ever stop on Express Lanes if you make a mistake. It’s important to just keep going, follow the signage and get off when it’s safe. Then you can pull over and navigate yourself where you need to go," she said.

FDOT says the lanes should reduce I-4 traffic by 20 percent. Some drivers were skeptical, like Eden Rubino. "With all the traffic I've seen on I-4, I don't see how it's gonna make a difference," she said.

Others, like Angel Linares, said they were happy for the new lanes. "Traffic in the morning, Clermont area, Lake Buena Vista, 8:30 in the morning, 5:30pm, it's horrible. Takes two hours sometime for a 30-minute drive, so this should help!"

The new express lanes be free for the first five days to let drivers get used to using them. After that you'll need to have a sun-pass, e-pass, or another kind of traffic transponder to use them, or face a $25 fine.