Construction resumes along section 7-B of Wekiva Parkway project this week

Expect delays, detours, traffic between Orange Boulevard all the way to I-4

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Traffic is about to get a whole lot worse if you are driving in the Longwood, Heathrow and Mount Dora areas.

Construction has resumed on the Wekiva Parkway Project, to get it back on track.

This comes after a state contractor dropped out in the middle of the project.

The Wekiva Parkway Project is a 15-mile stretch between Mount Dora and Sanford along State Road 46. 

A major section between Orange Boulevard and Oregon Street and Wayside Drive near Iinterstate 4 will be under major road construction starting this week.

That means you are going to start seeing a lot more construction trucks and a lot more road detours, as work goes on to expand that road to create the highly anticipated $1.6 billion six-lane highway.

Not everyone is happy about it.

“Not looking forward to it at all,” said Richard Vogel, who lives in nearby Sylvan Lake Reserve.

Many living there and in the gated community of Walden Cove are not happy about all the construction starting back up.

“It’s going to be a major inconvenience. There are going to be road closures. There's going to be a lot of noise. And nobody in the neighborhood is looking forward to it and we just hope it ends quickly."

Vogel, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said he moved here for the peace and quiet the Reserve seemed to offer. 

Now, he fears what the Wekiva Parkway expansion will do to his little pocket of paradise.

“Oh, that was nice,” said Vogel. “It certainly quieted things down a bit. But we knew it was going to start back up again.”

For about two months this spring, construction in the area came to a stop, after Italian contractor Astaldi pulled out of the project and three other construction projects with the Florida Department of Transportation. 

Construction is back on track after Colorado-based SEMA Construction Inc. was hired to resume work on the Wekiva Parkway project.  

FDOT officials confirm work started back up in June, and the FDOT said that even with the delay, it expects the project to finish on time. It expects the project to be completed by the end of 2022.

“It’s up to the contractor and the surety company to make sure that they meet that schedule,” said Mary Brooks, community outreach specialist with the Wekiva Parkway Project. 

Brooks confirmed that some turn lanes you may have been used to seeing during your drive to the area won't be there during the construction. 

She said the construction will be happening during both daytime and nighttime hours.

“We ask people to slow down, be mindful of the work construction safety zones, the equipment, vehicles moving in and out of traffic,” Brooks said.

Vogel said he doubts that the project will not face future delays.

“No possible way, they're dreaming,” Vogel said. “

But others said they are looking forward to what the project will bring.

“It could be a problem for some neighborhoods but, overall, it is a good thing,” said local realtor Dan Goodman.

Goodman. who Iives in Heathrow, said he sees all the construction as a minor price to pay for progress.

“It is overall a good thing,” Goodman said. “Everyone's excited about the expansion, the growth, easy commuting from one part of town to the other. It's going to open up Orlando and Mount Dora, connecting one side of town to the other, making it more convenient. “

 

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