(APOPKA, FL) – The Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) on Saturday, March 31 at 2 p.m. opened its final five miles of the Wekiva Parkway (State Road 429). The opening was preceded by a celebration including a 5K race and Family Fun Run/Walk, environmental and community booths, emergency service and high-tech vehicles, music and a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Officials and environmentalists during the ceremony praised the collaboration that went into making sure the parkway helped protect the vital natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River, while helping to complete the beltway.
A total of 764 people registered for the races. Donations, sponsorship’s and race proceeds totaling $27,000 will go to the Florida Wildlife corridor non-profit organization, in keeping with the parkway’s environmental protections.
Work began on the nearly $168 million parkway sections in 2016 and will now open Saturday afternoon, a year ahead of the original schedule.
CFX’s new expressway extension provides a crucial connection to SR 46 and communities throughout Lake, Orange and Seminole Counties. The new sections are located between Kelly Park Road and State Road 46, and between Round Lake Road and County Road 435 (Mount Plymouth Road).
This opening marks a major milestone with having more than half of the 25-mile parkway open to traffic.
The Wekiva Parkway will complete Central Florida’s beltway, while helping to protect wildlife and other natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River. Environmental protections include purchasing 3,400 acres of land for conservation along the corridor, building nearly 1.5 miles of wildlife bridges, limiting the number of interchanges, elevating the parkway to reduce collisions between vehicles and wildlife, and including wildlife jump-outs, bat houses and special fencing.
The Florida Wildlife Corridor strives to accelerate the rate of conservation in Florida by 10% annually to protect 300,000 acres within the corridor by the end of 2020. The corridor is a statewide network of lands and waters that supports wildlife and people. For more information, visit www.floridawildlifecorridor.org.
About the Central Florida Expressway Authority
The Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) is an independent agency of the state that operates and maintains a regional network of expressways for three million residents and more than 68 million visitors in Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. Created by the Florida Legislature in 2014, CFX’s 118-mile user-funded system includes 815 center lane miles, 69 interchanges, 14 mainline toll plazas, 74 ramp toll plazas and 335 bridges and seven named expressways. On average, more than 1 million toll transactions are recorded daily, 85 percent of them electronically. CFX operates E-PASS, the first electronic toll collection system in Florida, which supports nearly 400,000 E-PASS accounts.