Osceola Parkway extension plan has environmentalists concerned

Project would connect State Road 417 to Orlando International Airport

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – It’s a project that’s been in the works for 15 years: extending the Osceola Parkway.

The plan, approved by the Central Florida Expressway Authority, would extend the toll road from State Road 417 at Orlando International Airport nearly nine miles east, cutting through the Split Oak Forest.

It's a design that has environmentalists concerned.

CFX officials said the plan originally had a road going right through the middle of Split Oak Forest, but said they’ve made changes.

CFX officials told News 6 the project is going to connect into SR 417 and to the Orlando International Airport, through the Lake Nona area, and then connects in the Split Oak area.

“That is a great alignment because it has very minimal impacts to properties and still has the highest traffic volume that will take the traffic off the local roads,” Brian Hutchings, the communications specialist with CFX, said.

CFX officials said they are working with environmental partners and also have an agreement being offered for 1,500 acres of connected conservation land.

“The unraveling of our current protections will open the door for the development of any land that they even offer as a compensation package,” activist Ariel Hartney said.

Both Osceola County and Orange County have to vote to move the project forward, and the next step would be an application to Florida Communities Trust.

Osceola County commissioners Monday evening approved the proposal.

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