Governor Rick Scott joined FDOT and local officials for the Wekiva Parkway kick-off event, marking the partnership to complete the beltway around Central Florida, while protecting Florida’s environment. Secretary Ananth Prasad and District Secretary Noranne Downs took part in the event on July 10 at Wilson’s Landing Park, along the Wekiva River, in Seminole County.
The $1.5 billion Wekiva Parkway is a collaborative effort between FDOT and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA). The 25-mile managed road will make travel easier and more convenient through Lake, Orange, and Seminole counties, and will help relieve congestion on US Highway 441 and State Road 46.
Governor Scott said, “The Wekiva Parkway will create jobs for Florida families while also protecting our natural resources for future generations. Transportation projects like the Wekiva increase mobility and enhance the quality of life for the residents of this region.”
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “The Wekiva Parkway will be a true game-changer for the entire Central Florida region. By working together, we are able to make the long-sought vision of completing the beltway around metropolitan Orlando a reality.”
Based on years of input from thousands of citizens, business owners, environmentalists and agency officials, the parkway is specifically designed to help protect the Wekiva River Basin, home to an Outstanding Florida Water. Authorized by the 2004 Wekiva Parkway & Protection Act, parkway development has included conserving more than 3,400 acres of land.
The parkway will include several wildlife bridges and will be largely elevated to allow animals to move more easily and safely between habitats in the Wekiwa Springs State Park, Rock Springs Run Reserve, Seminole State Forest, and Lower Wekiva River Preserve.
The parkway is also expected to greatly benefit the region’s economy. More than 33,000 Floridians could get jobs related to the parkway’s design and construction over the next eight years. (Estimate uses formulas from the Federal Highway Administration Employment Impacts of Highway Infrastructure Investment – Updated March 2010.)
The Wekiva Parkway is being developed in sections with the entire roadway expected to be open to traffic in 2021. FDOT is developing the parkway in Lake and Seminole counties. The department is also making non-tolled improvements to SR 46 and relocating part of County Road 46A out of the Seminole State Forest to improve habitat connectivity. The Expressway Authority is designing and building the portions in Orange County as well as a small section in Lake County.
The Wekiva Parkway will be the first expressway built in Central Florida featuring all-electronic tolling for the greatest customer convenience and to keep traffic moving.