Flooding, road damage after heavy rainfall leads to safety concerns on I-4

Frequent flooding and road damage to construction areas of I-4 during heavy rainfall have contractors working to fix the issues and Central Florida drivers concerned for their safety on the road.

The Florida Department of Transportation said it is doing what it can to prevent what happened during Wednesday's rain storms from happening the rest of the rainy season.

On Wednesday, FDOT said a hole opened up in the road after a drainage pipe collapsed between Fairbanks Avenue and Ivanhoe Boulevard.

"Just a chunk out of I-4," said driver Ray Bazzi after seeing the damage. "Woah!"

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Bazzi spoke to Channel 9 at a gas station near the section of I-4 where the hole opened up.

"The number one thing is safety," said Bazzi. "If they're not safe, I don't feel good about it. I probably won't use I-4 until I feel like it's safer."

Other drivers also voiced their concerns.

"If there was an actual accident like that, it would be devastating to everything and probably cause a lot of trouble actually," said Mark Linder.

FDOT said it is asking the contractor to inspect other sections of the road that may have the same kind of pipes underneath them to prevent similar incidents.

Channel 9 reached out to FDOT and asked if there was anything stopping the interstate's structural collapse from spreading.

"We don't want incidents that happened Wednesday night, or flooding to happen," said Steve Olson of FDOT. "We've seen perceptions that I-4 is unsafe. We don't want I-4 to be unsafe in reality or perceived as such."

Rep. Darren Soto told Channel 9 he would have concerns of his own if he had to take I-4 in those conditions.

"(It's) obviously very concerning because I couldn't imagine plowing into water while driving on I-4," said Soto.

Soto also said he believes the contractor working on the I-4 Ultimate Project needs to do a better job with keeping the drains clear.

"The contractor needs to be clearing these pipes daily, especially with a lot of the sediment over that dry spell ended up cooking up the works there that is supposed to prevent this flooding from happening."

FDOT said there are temporary drainage measures in place for the forseeable future and that the only way to replace them with more permanent measures is by continuing to build and deal with problems as they arise.

FDOT said they plan to hold the contractor responsible if and when those problems do arise.

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