Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interstate 4 Has Reopened!

Great news! Interstate 4 has reopened for business late this afternoon (Thursday, 1/10/08)!

Tampa and Orlando are once again united thanks to a six lane highway where you can go from one place to another without encountering a traffic light. For those communities on US 92 east of Lakeland in Polk County, the temporary home of Interstate 4 the past couple of days, it is relief from the horrendous traffic jams for the many residents that make US 92 a part of their daily routine.

In a previous post several months ago I have discussed the summer thundershowers that can slow your travels on Interstate 275 and are well worth repeating, not only for the rain but for fog as well:

1. Most importantly, reduce your speed when you approach the fog and the trail of brake lights. 65 or 70 mph does not mean 65 or 70 mph all the time - you are supposed to drive in a reasonable and prudent manner when you approach an area of reduced visibility not only with fog but with smoke and rain as well.

2. Ease up on your accelerator and don't attempt to stop suddenly - the low visibility created by the fog is a recipe for an accident. If you have to use your brakes, tap on them lightly but slowly.

3. Give driving your 100% attention especially during the low visibility of the fog - the cell phone call can wait until you are in a safe place.

4. The only time you want to use your 4-way flashers is if you are pulled over in an emergency situation. 4-way flashers are not meant to be used while your vehicle is in motion; in fog (especially heavy fog) someone can run into you thinking that you are stopped. Speaking of emergency situations if your vehicle breaks down for any reason please by all means pull over to the nearest shoulder so that you are not obstructing traffic in any way.

5. Turn on your headlights, even if you have daytime running lamps. The daytime running lamps do not turn on your vehicle's rear tail lights when you need it. Remember to turn them off when you reach your destination to avoid a dead battery. Besides, having headlights on during rain as well as fog or smoke is mandatory per Florida Statutes.

6. Allow extra time to get to your destination, especially if you have to be somewhere at a given time. Leave early if you can.

7. Make sure your wipers and tires are in excellent condition for the road. Also check your windshield washer reservoir periodically and replenish as needed. Heavy fog can cause condensation on your windshield and when this occurs you have to use your windshield washers on the road as well.

8. If you breakdown on Interstate 275 or any other highway in the Tampa Bay area (including Interstate 4), pull over in a safe place such as the nearest shoulder. You may call *FHP (*347) on your cell phone to request a road ranger be sent to your location.

9. Most importantly, if you encounter thick and heavy fog that you cannot see over the hood of your vehicle, pull off the highway and stop in a safe place and remain there until the fog has lifted. If you are on Interstates 275, 75 or 4 make sure that you exit the highway and stop in a safe place (after all, stopping on an interstate highway unless you have a dire emergency such as an accident or a breakdown is illegal).

Following these safety tips for driving in fog (as well as smoke and rain) ensures that you will arrive at your destination safely. As I mentioned in my previous post if you were impacted by the closure of Interstate 4 please by all means post a reply.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Interstate 4 Advisory

As you probably seen on the news today (1/9/08) there was an early morning horrific chain reaction accident on Interstate 4 in Polk County which is the result of low visibility due to fog and smoke from a controlled burn nearby which was reported as having got out of control. Traffic being detoured onto the principal detour route, US 92, is being reported as horrendous.

If your travel plans include a trip on Interstate 4 to Orlando and the major attractions or Tampa, prepare for a major traffic nightmare. But here at we'll help you get where you need to go. With that in mind here are some detours to help you get to where you need to go between Tampa and Orlando:

As I mentioned earlier the principal detour route around this mess is US 92. If you are coming from Tampa eastbound, exit Interstate 4 at the Polk Parkway (FL Toll 570) and continue east until you get to the exit for US 92 to Auburndale. You will want to head east towards Auburndale on US 92 and continue east until you get to US 27. Once there head north on US 27 and that will take you back to Interstate 4 eastbound. If you are coming from Orlando westbound, you will be diverted off of Interstate 4 at US 27; head south on US 27 until you get to US 92. Once at US 92 head west and you'll go through Auburndale and to the Polk Parkway (FL Toll 570). A westbound trip on the Polk Parkway will place you back onto Interstate 4 westbound towards Tampa.

Now there are two other detour routes in addition to US 92 that are worth your consideration: FL 60 and FL 50.

To use FL 60, from Tampa head east on FL 60 through Brandon and Bartow to Lake Wales and US 27. Once in Lake Wales head north on US 27 to Interstate 4 eastbound. From Orlando it's basically the reverse: You will be diverted at US 27; head south to Lake Wales and FL 60. Once there head west on FL 60 through Bartow and Brandon all the way to Interstate 75 and Tampa.

Now we'll cover FL 50 as this is the northern route. From Tampa use Interstate 275 north to Interstate 75 north, then continue to Exit 301, which will be FL 50 to Orlando and Brooksville. Once there head east on FL 50 and it will take you towards the Florida Turnpike and Orlando. Remember FL 50 is mostly two lanes inbetween Interstate 75 and the town of Groveland; speaking of Groveland remember to watch your speed going through this town as there is strict enforcement. From Orlando it's the reverse: Head west on FL 50 all the way to Interstate 75. Once there head south on Interstate 75 towards Tampa and St. Petersburg (via Interstate 275). By the way, FL 50 in Orlando is also known as Colonial Drive.

Hopefully this horrific accident scene on Interstate 4 should be cleared up soon and Interstate 4 will be reopened to traffic providing a crucial link between Tampa and Orlando. My thoughts go out to those affected by the chain reaction accident on Interstate 4. By the way, if you have traversed any of the detour routes due to the temporary closure of Interstate 4 please feel free to reply and let me know how long your trip from Tampa to Orlando or vice versa took.