New stretch of Wekiva Parkway set to open

Expressway will be first in Central Fla. to use all electronic tolls

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Central Florida Expressway Authority is preparing to open the longest portion to date of the long-awaited Wekiva Parkway.

On Tuesday, project planners gave News 6 a sneak peek of a 5-mile section of the expressway, which will connect US-441 to Kelly Park Road.

"It's going to be immediate relief to current residents and you definitely can expect it's going to be a great asset for future residents of this area as well," public information officer Mary Brooks said.

CFX will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday at 9 a.m. to mark the opening of its first 5 miles of the Wekiva Parkway and the second portion to be opened in the $1.6 billion project.

In January 2016, the Florida Department of Transportation opened the first section, which connects Mount Plymouth Road to State Road 46.

When completed, the 25-mile Wekiva Parkway will complete a beltway around the western half of the Orlando Metro area.

"Everyone knew that the beltway needed to be finished and we're taking a big 5-mile step toward that on Thursday," Brooks said.

The expressway is the first in Central Florida to use all electronic tolls. The system gives drivers the option to pay by transponder or through their license plate.

"The pay by plate program is available for people who don't have a transponder, but it is a slightly higher toll cost," Brooks said.

Project planners also said the road has been designed with aesthetics in mind. Large portions of the road have been dug below ground level in an effort to reduce the impact on the surrounding area.

"The idea there was to be able to take that fill and be able to elevate the parkway elsewhere, but also to minimize the visibility of the road and the noise to the surrounding communities," Brooks said.

CFX said their second section of the Wekiva Parkway, which would connect Kelly Park Road to Mount Plymouth Road, is scheduled to be completed in spring 2018.

The entire finished roadway is projected to be completed in 2021.

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