1. What is the Wekiva Parkway? In a nutshell, it’s an extension of State Road 429. The project is a 25-mile toll road that will complete the beltway around metropolitan Orlando and Central Florida. It will connect to State Road 417.
This estimated $1.6 billion project will link north Lake County to Seminole and Orange Counties. The increased accessibility to the area is expected to spur residential and commercial growth in Mount Dora and other parts of Lake County. The multi-lane parkway will also reduce traffic, travel times and accidents on State Road 46.
2.How will SR 46 near Mount Dora be affected? How many lanes will it be? SR 46 will be widened to six lanes, adding sidewalks, drainage and other improvements from just west of US 441 to just east of Round Lake Road (project sections 2C, 3A & 3B).
3. What is the projected time frame for that section? Work began on the section in October, 2017 and is scheduled for completion in 2020.
4. What will the new interchange of US 441 and SR 46 be like? It’s being reconfigured to become a signalized, at-grade intersection. There will be a flyover ramp for US 441 traffic coming from the north to flow continuously to the east to get to the parkway. US 441 and SR 46 will be six lanes in this area. Sidewalks, crosswalks and other improvements will be added. Scheduled to begin construction in late summer-early fall 2017 and finish in 2019 . See images (project section 3A & 3B).
5.Where is the parkway’s closest on-ramp from US 441 in Mount Dora? To access the Wekiva Parkway from Mount Dora, motorists will take SR 46 and use the loop interchange under construction now at SR 46 just east of Round Lake Road. The ramp will be open to traffic on March 31, 2018.
6.What will change on SR 46 between Sorrento and Sanford A Mount Plymouth area improvement realigning CR 46A north of Arundel Way to SR 46 began in early June, 2017 (project section 5).
In Seminole County, SR 46 will be replaced by the elevated parkway and parallel, non-tolled service roads for drivers who want to avoid tolls for local trips.This construction should begin before the end of the year. This configuration will extend from the now-open Sorrento area interchange (Section 4B) to near Orange Boulevard in Sanford. A 10-mile, multi-use trail will parallel the one-lane service road in Mount Plymouth near the Seminole State Forest to east of Sanford in Seminole County (project sections 6 and 7A).
7. What has been done to protect wildlife? The 2004 Wekiva Parkway and Protection Act required landmark environmental protections to be included in building the 25-mile parkway. During construction wildlife biologists are on staff to ensure protected species are not affected by work, and crews are educated about the different wildlife species along the corridor and how to avoid them.
More than 3,400 acres of land has been purchased for conservation along the parkway corridor. The two wildlife tunnels (totaling 80 feet of safe passage for wildlife) along SR 46 in east Lake County are being replaced by several wildlife bridges totaling 7,700 feet of safe crossing for wildlife. 10-foot tall wildlife fencing is being installed along many portions of the parkway to keep animals away from the roadway. That includes tunnels two feet underground to discourage small animals from burrowing into the corridor. Sections of the parkway closest to wildlife habitat include wildlife jump-outs, so that animals who do wander onto the corridor can exit safely. The jump-outs are elevated so animals cannot enter the corridor that way.
So far, more than 800 gopher tortoises, a protected keystone species, have been excavated and relocated from the corridor to state licensed recipient sites as part of building the parkway. Bat houses are being erected in strategic locations to provide safe lodging where their habitat has been disturbed.
8. When will shovels hit the dirt in the localized areas? Construction began in October, 2017 on the sections from SR 46 from 441 to east of Round Lake Road in Mount Dora. See images (sections 3A & 3B), as well as Seminole County (Section 6). A Mount Plymouth area improvement realigning CR 46A north of Arundel Way to SR 46 began in early June, 2017 (project section 5).
9. When will the entire Wekiva Parkway be complete? The entire parkway’s projected opening is 2022.
10. What is the cost of the project and how is it funded? The $1.6 billion Wekiva Parkway includes $500 million of non-tolled road improvements. The project is funded in the five-year work programs for both FDOT and CFX. For more local news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, 'like' Mount Dora Buzz on Facebook and download the area's free mobile app. Free monthly issues of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.