Report: Sections of I-4 Ultimate project hit roadblocks with delays, penalties

The project was supposed to be completed by the beginning of next year, but now, it won?t be finished until the fall of 2021.

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new report shows work on the I-4 Ultimate project is now 273 days behind schedule, and some portions are even further behind than that.

The project was supposed to be completed by the beginning of next year, but now, it won’t be finished until the fall of 2021.

Some of the busiest sections of the interstate, Maitland Boulevard and State Road 408, are behind a combined 1,411 days.

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The report goes into detail that says Maitalnd Boulevard is behind 940 days and 471 days for the I-4/408 interchange is behind .

The contractor was given a bonus incentive at the beginning of the project to complete Maitland Boulevard the stretch between Maitland Boulevard and the 408 interchange before other parts of the project.

Maitland Boulevard has been transformed entirely since work started on I-4 in February 2015. To date, there are now more lanes on Maitland Boulevard with much of the elevated lanes already built out between State Road 434 and just before 17/92.

Despite the amount of work done at Maitland, the report details the area was supposed to be completed by November 2018, but has been delayed until February 2021.

The delay carries a $2.7 million penalty.

Similar delays face the I-4 and 408 interchange, one of the busiest areas of Central Florida and one of the most complex for the project. The overhaul of the interchange includes six new bridges that were not part of the old I-4 and eliminating many merge points drivers often cited as being unsafe. Construction for that area is 471 days behind and is also expected to be completed in February 2021.

As for the whole 21-mile project, the report cited a number of setbacks including a major crack in a pier holding up a portion of I-4 over Colonial Drive, hurricanes Dorian and Irma, and major events in downtown at the Amway Center and Orlando City SC arena that workers have to wait until all the traffic clears before they can start overnight construction.

While the state is behind at two major sections of the project, SGL has received bonuses for two other sections and a partial bonus for one.

What’s next?

The contractor is still waiting for the state to agree to give it more time and money for the project. The state has not yet granted the contractor any extra time or money, so the contractor is being held to the original timeline agreed upon in February 2015.

The contractor fronted all more than $2 billion for the project. State Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault said last month that time is on the contractor’s side.

“The public wants to get this done. So if I do terminate somebody, the time period to get somebody else in is a lot longer because, now, it’s going to sit there until I get someone to finish it up,” Thibault said.

The free-general use lanes will likely be the first to open on the 21-mile project, Thibault said. The new report says substantial completion of I-4 should happen by the end of September 2021.