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I-4 The Odyssey

While working as a traveling salesman after graduating with my degree in Journalism, go figure, I made many lengthy trips on I-4. Back and forth from my office on Vineland Road to my territory on the east coast. I had sat in traffic when they closed sections of I-4 for the president’s arrival, through 10 and 12 car pileups, but never had I sat in traffic like I did on October 13, 2006.

After a successful sales trip to Daytona, I was riding the wave of lowly compensation all the way back to my office an hour and fifteen minutes away. I returned victorious, making multiple victory laps around the plastic cells, cubicles,  where my coworkers resided. The Karate Kid theme song blared from my boss’ boombox, yes he had a boombox, as I prepared to head home an hour early as part of my lowly compensation. Little did I know, the hour I had been granted was far less time than I would need to make it home at a normal hour.

I hopped in my whip and drove off into the sunset. At that point in the evening on a Friday, I expected traffic jams to conveniently stretch from downtown to about a mile before my exit. While driving up a ramp and nodding politely at a car attempting to merge, I noticed a small plane violently touching down on the eastbound side of I-4. The plane landed and drove on for a half mile or so before reaching the outskirts of that days congestion.

For the first couple hours I began to feel a bit like Odysseus from Homer’s Odyssey. Dodging police “sirens” and cycloptic semis in the hopes that I might someday see home again. That night, I spent three hours trying to get home, all because some politician with boatloads of money was attempting to bypass the very traffic which he would later cause. Seeing a plane land on the highway “tarmac” was by far the weirdest memory I have of I-4.

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Plane on I-4

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I-4 Plane Landing 2006

Michael Heffinger, FDOT  Roadway Engineer, touches the propeller of a Cessna Skyhawk that landed on I-4 near the John Young Parkway intersection,...

Overturned Dirt Truck on I-4

Westbound traffic on interstate 4 (I-4) backs up near a truck that spilled its load of dirt.  The truck was driven by...

Overturned Logging Truck on I-4

Orlando Police Officer Dan Nessim clears the southbound exit ramp from interstate 4 to the Florida Turnpike after a logging truck overturned....

Inmates Clean Up I-4 Tomato Spill

Inmates rake tomatoes from the embankment between Interstate 4 and Wymore Road in Winter Park after hundreds of pounds of produce were...

Tomato Truck Traffic on I-4

Interstate 4's westbound lanes were backed up 6 miles mostly because of gawking at an accident near the Fairbanks Avenue exit in...

Ticket Trap on I-4

Orlando Police Motorcycle Officers write citations during rush hour Tuesday morning, October 16, 2007, to motorists on eastbound lane of Interstate 4,...

Oil Tanker Explodes

A firefighter from Engine 31 walks across the Interstate-4 median while the fuel tanker burns behind him, turning the sky black. The...

Truck Hanging off I-4

Christine McMichael's Ford Explorer dangles from a bridge on Interstate 4 in a July 2002 crash. (Dennis Wall, Orlando Sentinel / July...

Hurricane Evacuation

Westbound traffic came to a standstill on Interstate 4 near Walt Disney World in Orlando, on Saturday, August 14, 2004. Evacuees from...

Merita Bread Sign

The iconic Merita Bread sign near Exit 35 on Interstate 4 in Orlando gives drivers the temperature and time as well as...

Plane Crash Advertisement

This is the eye-catching airplane along an empty stretch of Interstate 4 advertising the Fantasy of Flight attraction. The plane is a...

Tanker Plane over I-4

A tanker plane dumps fire retardant along the eastbound lanes of an empty I-4 near the intersection of County Road  557 in...

Helicopter on I-4

Interstate 4 was at a standstill as police descended on the area where Michael Welsh held police at bay near the Princeton...

Pileup on I-4

The accident scene Wednesday, January 9, 2008, of a 70-car pileup with 5 fatalities  that blocked at least 14 miles of Interstate...

Pileup on I-4 (2)

The accident scene, Wednesday, January 9, 2008, of a 70-car pileup with 5 fatalities that blocked at least 14 miles of Interstate 4...

Smoke from I-4 Pileup

A plume of smoke (lower right) billows from the I-4 accident scene on Wednesday, January 9, 2008. The accident included a  70-car...

I-4 1965

Wow, what a difference 40-something years make. Here's an aerial shot of the I4 bridge at lake Ivanhoe in downtown Orlando being...

Florida Forward Sign

The official dedication of Interstate 4 through Orlando is held for the roadway that will move Florida forward. (Frank Russell, Orlando Sentinel,...

Traffic 1975

More than 20 years of traffic jams: here's a view of the I-4 exit near Kirkman in 1975. (Orlando Sentinel / December...

Traffic 1987

A view of I4 eastbound during rush hour traffic in 1987. (Orlando Sentinel / June 24, 1987)    

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