New Innovation Way Interchange Replacing Monument Parkway Junction East Of Orlando
The first ramp of a revised interchange system on Florida’s Beachline Expressway will open Friday, March 31, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has announced. The new ramp will route traffic directly from the southbound lanes of Innovation Way to the westbound lanes of the State Road 528, which is the Beachline.
“Motorists traveling south on Innovation Way will be able to access the new ramp directly instead of following the existing configuration through Monument Parkway,” officials announced in a written release. Authorities said the old southbound ramp, from Monument Parkway, will close as the new ramp opens this weekend. Monument Parkway becomes International Corporate Park Boulevard south of the Beachline Expressway.
The Innovation Way interchange, about nine miles east of Orlando International Airport, will replace the Monument Parkway/ICP interchange completely by early 2018. The interchange is being updated to accommodate new development in the area, which includes a new intrastate commuter rail system, All Aboard Florida.
Detour signs will be available to guide drivers on Monument Parkway, officials said. “Motorists traveling on Monument Parkway and ICP Boulevard will be directed to head north to Innovation Way to access the new ramp,” officials wrote.
Tolls Remain Suspended Until At Least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9
The service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike are all operational in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, according to a staff member at the Turkey Lake service plaza. The plazas had been closed as the storm roiled offshore Thursday and Friday, sending wave upon wave of feeder bands across the peninusla. The Florida Department of Transportation, under orders from the governor’s office, had closed all plazas in order to protect staff.
The plazas began reopening in South Florida Friday afternoon, and all are now operational, with the threat of Matthew now passed.
Meanwhile, tolls remain suspended across Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll facilities, including Orlando’s toll roads and those in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. While the free ride may be saving money, traffic congestion is occasionally up at some toll plazas, where officials are directing traffic into just a few lanes. The governor’s office released a statement late Sunday afternoon stating tolls would remain suspended until at least 11:59 p.m.
Sunday, October 9. However, regional tolling agencies were reviewing their toll status on a county by county basis.
Elsewhere, officials will be examining constructions sites in the coming days on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads to determine whether it is safe to resume maintenance and new construction operations. When that process is complete, construction restrictions will resume.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to include the governor's office's latest statement on the status of tolls on Florida's Turnpike.
No Statement Issued About Service Plazas Reopening As Gas Supplies Disrupted
Tolls remain suspended this afternoon on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads, including those in metropolitan Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The service plazas on the turnpike remain closed in the most heavily-damaged areas, with only South Florida’s service plazas operational late Saturday afternoon.
As Hurricane Matthew weakens off the coast of the Carolinas, it remains unclear how quickly service plazas will reopen. This could be trouble for drivers who normally depend upon the fuel and other services provided at plazas. Fuel supplies at retail locations at various exits are likely to suffer some, as ports across the northeastern coast have been shut down due to Matthew.
The governor’s office, in its regular written afternoon briefing, said those ports are beginning to reopen. The governor’s office also assured residents and tourists officials were closely monitoring supply chain and distribution channels. “The state is monitoring for supply, distribution or retail fuel shortages or issues, specifically for isolated incidents of individual retailers experiencing temporary fuel shortages,” the governor’s press office wrote. “These individual retailers are being quickly refueled, and fuel is readily available across Florida.”
Officials at the Florida Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for further information about the service plazas or tolling.
Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida Toll Roads, Including Florida’s Turnpike
Some Service Plazas Reopened In South Florida
Florida Governor Rick Scott toured storm-ravaged cities and counties in Florida this afternoon as the damage assessments following Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the state began in earnest. The governor met by telephone with mayors of dozens of cities this morning and again this afternoon, also paying personal visits to coastal communities, including the town of Cocoa, which is at the eastern terminus of the Beachline Expressway.
Tolls on the Beachline Expressway and all other regional toll roads, as well as Florida’s Turnpike, remain suspended this evening, the governor’s office announced in a statement released early Friday night. Some county tolling facilities may reinstate tolls as early as Saturday as officials examine the potential for putting toll workers back on the road. “All toll suspensions remain in effect and will remain suspended for at least 24 hours,” the statement read. “After the storm passes, county DOT officials will review this on a case by case basis.”
Meanwhile, three service plazas on the Florida’s Turnpike reopened in South Florida earlier in the day Friday, after conditions borne of the monster hurricane had largely passed from the region. Engineering assessments determined none of the buildings had suffered any structural damage that could be potentially harmful or life-threatening. All services plazas from West Palm Beach and south were open Friday night. Service plazas north of West Palm Beach remain closed, including two in the metro Orlando area, the Canoe Creek and Turkey Lake plazas.
As for Hurricane Matthew, itself, the storm has been downgraded to a powerful category 2 system, which is sending strong storm surges and high winds across the very northeastern edge of Florida and across coastal Georgia. The storm is expected to turn east into the Atlantic over the weekend, then turn south once more to head toward the Bahamas for a second time.
Hurricane Matthew, Just Offshore, Pulling Energy Over Central Florida
Turnpike Service Plazas Remain Closed At This Hour; Tolls Still Suspended
Hurricane Matthew continues is sea-bound spiral up Florida’s east coast this morning, after narrowly missing South Florida Thursday and Thursday night. The storm remains a category 3 monster, and forecasters expect the system will continue to spin along the coast on a northwesterly trek, before eventually turning overnight and into the weekend to run along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority announced on their Twitter feed this morning that the Florida governor’s office had ordered tolls to remain suspended. That order will affect all toll roads in Florida, not just those operated by CFX.
Meanwhile, service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike remain closed this morning as feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew continue to pelt Orlando and Central Florida, areas where people have already endured nearly 24 hours of incessant tropical whiplash. Even as Matthew was over the Bahamas, weather radar showed a steady onslaught of tropical energy flowing from the Atlantic over the central peninsula.
The danger posed by Matthew forced Disney World to close at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The park remains closed today. Sea World, Universal Orlando, and other Orlando tourist destinations, most near or close to Florida’s Turnpike, are also closed. For Disney World, the closure is only the fourth time in its history, according to Mashable, that the theme park has closed. All closures were due to hurricanes, and all have happened since 1999.
Officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have said they will reopen the service plazas along the turnpike only after Matthew has passed, and only when engineers have verified the structural integrity of any building that have been awash in Matthew’s massive wind field. “All Turnpike Service Plazas will re-open after Matthew passes and all the structures are deemed safe for operation and occupation,” officials said in a written statement.
Category 4 Storm Clearing Bahamas And Speeding Toward U.S. Coast
Hurricane Warnings Extend North From Broward County Into Southern Georgia
The outer feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew have already begun whipping around drivers on Florida’s Turnpike in South Florida, particularly Miami-Dade County and Broward County, the first to begin feeling the impact of the storm. For those still driving Florida’s Turnpike this morning, officials have urged caution on the roads.
The Florida Highway Patrol was reporting heavy congestion on State Road 60 in Indian River County, where traffic is heading westbound toward Florida’s Turnpike in an effort to outrun the storm. Matthew is expected to graze the coastline along the Treasure Coast and Space Coast of Florida, even as its immense wind field influences most of the eastern peninsula and into the Florida Keys.
Tolls were suspended on most portions of Florida’s Turnpike and most of Central Florida’s toll roads Tuesday night, as officials prepared for evacuations from communities across a broad swath of the Florida’s east coast, particularly from Palm Beach County northward. The FHP reported all service plazas remained open, and customers were being permitted to fill up a five-gallon (19 liter) container of fuel, in addition to a vehicle fill-up.
High winds, which are already gusting across South Florida, are expected to get significantly worse through the early and mid-afternoon hours, reaching high tropical storm-force early Thursday evening. Some areas are expected to get hurricane force gusts, and sustained hurricane force winds are expected to impact northern segments of Florida’s Turnpike and, in particular, the east leg of the Beachline Expressway.
As of 11 a.m., hurricane warnings were extended farther north, well into South Carolina, and the storm, itself, had gained strength and reclaimed its status as a category 4 hurricane. However, the storm is more compact than it had been, even as it has regained strength. Hurricane-force winds extend outward about 60 miles from the center, but tropical storm -force winds only extend outward about 160 miles, a contraction of about 15 miles from the previous advisory. Maximum sustained winds are at 140 miles per hour, with higher gusts.
Editor's note: Some supplemental information has been added to this report since it was first published. Information about the service plazas was added at 12:20 p.m. EDT.
Category 3 Storm Continues Pushing Through Bahamas, Aiming For Florida Coastline
Tolls have been suspended on nearly all of Florida’s toll roads and the mainline of Florida’s Turnpike due to the approach of Hurricane Matthew. Chad Huff, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, announced the toll suspensions late this afternoon in a written release. The suspensions take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and will remain in effect for the duration of the storm.
The suspensions will be in effect for the following roadways:
Florida’s Turnpike Mainline, from Exit 2X in North Miami Beach/Miramar, north to the mainline terminus at Wildwood’s Exit 309.
Huff warned drivers to follow road signs and pay attention to message signs on the roadways. Specifically, he stated there would be directional signs posted at toll plazas, warning drivers to use extra care, as the plazas will be unmanned. “[Drivers] are advised to obey directional signs posted in advance of toll plazas and exercise caution when approaching the plaza structure.”
The National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. hurricane advisory shows the track of Matthew has jogged back to the west, putting the storm just offshore of Stuart by Friday morning. With the windfield on Hurricane Matthew extending outward about 175 miles from the center, even an offshore storm is likely to cause extreme high winds on approach, making travel hazardous beginning around midday Thursday, according to forecasters.
Tolls will remain suspended until after the storm passes and officials have assessed damage on the roadways, Huff said.
Turnpike And Other Toll Roads In Central Florida Could Be Affected By Massive Storm
Officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation said today they do not know whether there will be a need to change traffic patterns on Florida’s Turnpike as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Much of Florida’s east coast and most of the Florida Keys are under either a tropical storm watch or a hurricane watch, after the National Hurricane Center in Miami released its 11 a.m. update today.
It is not uncommon for authorities to suspend tolls and route traffic in a specific direction, to accommodate evacuations. However, FDOT spokesman, Chad Huff, said it was too early to know whether a traffic a pattern change would happen or whether tolls might be suspended. Huff said he and other officials were very busy today in the face of Hurricane Matthew’s approach. “We wont’ know that until [Wednesday],” he told TurnpikeInfo.com.
Florida’s Turnpike runs through the middle of the peninsula at its north leg, but it turns to the east, just north of the Fort Drum Service Plaza, then runs close to Florida’s east coast, often getting within five miles of the coast. That is close enough to feel the impact of Hurricane Matthew. The storm is projecting hurricane force winds some 60 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds extend 185 miles from the center of the storm, according to the NHC.
In Central Florida, where hurricane watches apply along the coastline, up to the Brevard County-Volusia County border, Hurricane Matthew could still create high winds and dangerous rain conditions well inland, affecting the Beachline Expressway, which runs from Interstate 95 west to Orlando. Any decision to alter traffic or suspend tolls on the Central Florida Expressway roads, however, will still come from the Florida governor’s office, said Brian Hutchings, spokesman for the CFX in Orlando.
However Hutchings did note decisions will be made in the next day about whether to shut down construction operations along the CFX toll roads. He said if such a decision is made, workers would spend the day Wednesday “buttoning up work areas and making sure anything that could go airborne is either tied down or removed from the site.”
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, declared a state of emergency late Monday, after the track for Hurricane Matthew shifted considerably to the west. Scott observed that Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful storm to threaten the Sunshine State in nearly a quarter of a century. While a host of hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the state in that time, none has had the potential for such extreme damage as Hurricane Matthew. “If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven’t seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992,” Governor Scott told reporters Monday.
Editor's note: This story has been modified to include the comments of Brian Hutchings from the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
Overnight Closures Impact Orangewood Boulevard and Universal Boulevard
The Florida Department of Transportation announced the overnight closures of some of the entrance and exit ramps to Orangewood and Universal Boulevards. Both roads share the same exit, with Universal Boulevard running north from the Beachline Expressway, while Orangewood Boulevard runs to the south.
The road closures will impact the southbound lanes of Universal/Orangewood Boulevard at the Beachline Expressway interchange, where construction crews are setting beams as part of a road widening project. As a result, drivers traveling southbound on Universal Boulevard will not be able to take the eastbound entrance ramp for the Beachline, and drivers traveling westbound on the toll road will not be able to exit to the southbound lanes of Universal/Orangewood Boulevard.
The closures are scheduled to last overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning only.