I-4 expressway toll construction project could last 10 years

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Channel 9's Karla Ray found out changes to planned toll lanes on Interstate 4 could force drivers through a construction mess for the next 10 years.

Officials hope the express toll lanes through downtown Orlando will eventually make the commute easier, and Phase 1 of the project is set to begin in the fall.

The first phase will focus on downtown Orlando and will take about six years to complete.  But Ray found Phase 2 could also take six years to wrap up, which puts the entire $2 billion project well over 10 years.

Some 200,000 drivers use I-4 through downtown every day, including Angel Baez Camacho.

Camacho hopes the addition of express toll roads will ease congestion.

"I would definitely pay," said Camacho. "I pay them every day, $300-$400 a month in tolls to avoid I-4."

The Florida Department of Transportation is also thinking of expanding the project. Instead of stopping at State Road 434 in Seminole County, the toll roads and express lanes would extend in to Volusia County by about 20 miles.

And from the Kirkman Road exit, it would extend another 20 miles to Polk County.

"A lot of traffic comes out of Osceola and Polk to Orlando and then we get a lot of traffic in Volusia County to Orlando," said Steve Olson, of FDOT.

But the relief FDOT promises will only come after an additional cost of $1.8 billion and at least 10 years of total construction.

"I think that's crazy, because there's already enough construction as it is," said driver Jasmine Espinosa.

There is a meeting to discuss the study behind the potential plans scheduled for Thursday night.