BRADENTON, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation is forging ahead with its biggest public-private partnership to date: a $2.1 billion managed-lanes venture dubbed the Interstate 4 Ultimate Project.

The massive project covers 21 miles of I-4 in central Florida’s Orange and Seminole counties, which suffers from severe congestion due to the location of mega-theme parks and other development in the growing Orlando area. 

FDOT said various sources of funding are being contemplated, including private-activity bonds, a low-interest federal loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, toll revenues, as well as state and federal funds.

Other agencies expected to be involved in supporting the project financially include the Florida Turnpike and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.

The project includes reconstructing the existing Interstate and 15 interchanges, adding two managed express lanes in each direction, building 56 new bridges and replacing 68 others.

The managed lanes will use variable pricing tolls that rise as congestion increases in the corridor. All tolls will be collected electronically by transponders and trucks will not be allowed to use the express lanes.

According to FDOT, using a P3 will allow Florida to advance the long-planned project by 20 years compared to traditional methods. It will also enable the state to reconstruct aging infrastructure and increase capacity.

An industry forum for those interested in the development, design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the I-4 Ultimate Project is scheduled March 4 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

Prospective interests in the P3 can also schedule one-on-one meetings with FDOT officials on March 5 and 6.

The forum will include a series of presentations on the project scope, procurement timeline, procurement process, traffic and revenue, and financing information for the project. Details are posted on a special website at

Community meetings will also be held, though none have been scheduled yet.

The project is being evaluated for a P3 concession that could span more than 50 years, according to a traffic and revenue planning analysis by URS Corp.

The state plans to use an availability payment scheme. In addition to financing and construction, the P3 plan envisions that a concessionaire will perform long-term operations and maintenance.

A timeline for the project shows that the state expects to seek qualifications from prospective teams as well as P3 proposals this year.

Construction would begin in the fall of 2014 with completion slated in 2020.

I-4 is a major east-west corridor that runs from Daytona Beach on the east coast to Tampa on the west coast. The Ultimate Project runs through Orlando.

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