The Wekiva Parkway Project Is Preparing to Move Forward
Posted on: June 30, 2012 in Transportation News
(Press release from Florida Department of Transportation)
WEKIVA PARKWAY TO MOVE FORWARD WITH SIGNING OF AGREEMENT AND FEDERAL APPROVAL
ORLANDO – On May 29, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing the agreement between the Orlando-Orange County
Expressway Authority and Florida Department of Transportation to build the Wekiva Parkway. The signing of the MOU marks the last major hurdle toward making the long-sought vision of completing the beltway around metropolitan Orlando a reality.
“This is an important step in our ability to move forward to build the Wekiva Parkway,” said Secretary Prasad. “The Department will continue to work diligently with the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, and all involved, to bring this significant transportation project to fruition.”
Earlier in May, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the proposed alignment of the Wekiva Parkway, a 25-mile toll road that would complete the beltway around metropolitan Orlando.
The FHWA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), accepting the location and design concept. The approval means the Proposed Build Alternative from the Wekiva Parkway Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study can move toward design and construction.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority collaborated on the PD&E Study since January 2005. The study engaged state and local agencies and community members in developing and evaluating alternatives that meet the region’s transportation needs, while also seeking to minimize public and environmental impacts.
The federal approval means the agencies can proceed in earnest with design, which is expected to take about 18-24 months, followed by right-of-way acquisition and permitting. The parkway will be built in sections, with full construction of the beltway’s missing link expected to take at least seven years.
“This is a great day for Central Florida. I am looking forward to the collaborative effort with FDOT to finish the beltway around Orlando. This landmark project will bring the community a much needed economic boost, provide an alternative to I-4 and alleviate congestion on many area local roads.” said Walter Ketcham, Expressway Authority chairman.
Both FDOT and the Expressway Authority have been working to develop funding plans for their portions of the highway. The agencies each will design, construct, own, operate and maintain their portions of the Wekiva Parkway. The next step is an interlocal agreement further detailing each agency’s role.
There’s no doubt that the Wekiva Parkway is a vital link for Central Florida’s transportation network and a lot of hard work has gone into the process thus far,” said Max Crumit, Interim Executive Director of the Expressway Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work together with FDOT and the Turnpike to complete the beltway around metro-Orlando.”
Environmentalists have hailed the Wekiva Parkway as a shining example for transportation planning through environmentally sensitive areas. Authorized by the landmark 2004 Wekiva Parkway & Protection Act,development of the Wekiva Parkway has included setting aside more than 3,400 acres of land for conservation.
The parkway – which would provide an alternative to Interstate 4, and relieve SR 46, US 441 and other area roads of traffic congestion – includes numerous wildlife bridges and will be largely elevated to reduce accidents between vehicles and wildlife.
Get updates on the project at the Wekiva Parkway Website.