Years of planning, design, and construction will culminate in the completion of Orlando’s beltway next year. The Wekiva Parkway — the State Road (S. R.) 429 extension through Orange, Lake, and Seminole counties — recently celebrated a
significant milestone with the opening of a new section along the S.R. 46 corridor from Longwood Markham Road to near Orange Boulevard. Now, less than 2 miles of expressway is all that remains to connect the Wekiva Parkway to Interstate 4
(I-4) and S.R. 417 near Seminole Towne Center
Senior Project Engineer Wade Morris, who works as a consultant to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) from Metric Engineering, says construction teams are making excellent progress on the final portion despite supply chain issues and occasional severe weather.
“This is the largest construction project of my career,” said Morris, who has worked on FDOT projects and elsewhere in the industry for 20 years, having also spent time in Chicago and the Carolinas. “It’s tremendously exciting to be a part of something this big that improves regional transportation. I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far with the project.”
Morris said approximately 150 workers could be on the job any given day, completing this last portion of the beltway connection.
Drivers can currently enter the parkway from side streets connecting to S.R. 46, such as International Parkway/Terracina Drive, Henderson Lane, Orange Boulevard, and Center Road. The speed limit on the parkway is 70 mph but drops to 35 mph in some of the construction zones.
The Wekiva Parkway design features new roundabouts at the S.R. 46 intersections with Osprey Hammock Trail, Longwood Markham Road, Yankee Lake Road, Lake Markham Road, and Glade View Drive. It is estimated that incorporating roundabouts can help reduce traffic congestion at intersections by 30 to 50 percent.
Not only is the Wekiva Parkway making travel more efficient, but it is also designed with aesthetics in mind. The parkway’s design and landscaping were envisioned to enhance the natural landscape, with bridges, roadway barriers, gantries, and other structures utilizing materials selected to complement the surrounding environment.
“Protecting the Wekiva River Basin was one of the priorities for the project,” said Lauren Pearson, FDOT District Five Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC) manager. “For that reason, the number of traffic interchanges was limited to ensure the surrounding lands and wildlife were affected as little as possible.”
A TOLL-BY-PLATE payment option helps ensure safety by eliminating the need for vehicles to slow or stop at a toll gantry. Drivers can also pay with SunPass, E-PASS, and other Florida-accepted toll transponders.
The Wekiva Parkway features more than a mile and a quarter of elevated roadway, creating spacious underpasses for animals to cross safely. There are also more than 10 miles of trails for bicycling and hiking.
You can find more information about Wekiva Parkway and construction updates at www.wekivaparkway.com/.