A project called A-FIRST is getting an A+ for saving money and helping the environment, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is a major partner. A-FIRST, the Altamonte Springs – FDOT Integrated Reuse and Stormwater Treatment project, is a state and local effort to divert runoff water from Interstate 4, store it, treat it, and then send it to areas where it is needed for irrigation, saving millions of dollars in the process.
Groundbreaking for the project was held June 13, and FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad took part. The project is tied to the I-4 Ultimate project to widen 21 miles of the interstate in metro Orlando and surrounding Orange and Seminole counties. The $2.3 billion construction project is scheduled to begin in early 2015. Normally a road widening project similar to the I-4 Ultimate would require FDOT to build and maintain a large water retention pond to hold and treat stormwater, which is now no longer needed. A-FIRST also eliminates the need to construct a costly bridge on I-4 that would connect Cranes Roost to an Altamonte Springs pumping station on the west side. The total savings is an estimated $15 million.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the St. Johns River Water Management District also play vital roles in the approval process, as A-FIRST will significantly reduce the amount of I-4 runoff water that now finds its way into the Little Wekiva River during heavy rains.