Preliminary work ahead of construction is underway near the future Wekiva Parkway interchange that will connect State Road (S.R.) 429 to Interstate 4 (I‐4) and S.R. 417 – finishing Central Florida’s beltway. Gopher tortoises relocation prior to construction is one of those activities. The excavation and relocation effort will require clearing vegetation, and using large equipment that may move in and out of traffic and drivers will need to be alert.
More than 40 gopher tortoise burrows have been flagged on the project site. Only some of those are expected to be active, but could yield up to 26 gopher tortoises. The gopher tortoises, a threatened species in Florida, are being carefully relocated per state permit. The reptiles are being relocated to Camp Lonesome Phase I, a permitted recipient site in Osceola County.
After the burrows have been cleared, the major work will begin on this $253.3 million section of the parkway. Section 8 involves building the parkway and interchange from Orange Boulevard to east of Rinehart Road. This section also includes building related improvements along I-4 – including the general use lanes for the future Beyond the Ultimate project – from south of S.R. 417 to S.R. 46.
Construction is expected to finish in late 2022. Work on this 2.63-mile project will include building nearly two dozen bridges, aesthetic walls and a toll gantry. The Wekiva Parkway includes all electronic tolling for the greatest customer convenience and to keep traffic moving.
If you have any questions, please contact Steve Olson, FDOT Communications Manager at [email protected], or by telephone at 386-943-5479. You may also contact Public Information Officer Mary Brooks at [email protected], or by telephone at 407-694-5505. For more information visit the project website at www.wekivaparkway.com, and follow the project on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates.
More Project Information
The $1.6 billion Wekiva Parkway is completing Central Florida’s beltway while helping to protect the natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River. The Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority have opened 13 miles of the eventual 25-mile toll road. The parkway provides travel alternatives, enhances safety and relieves traffic congestion.
Environmentalists refer to the Wekiva Parkway as a good example of transportation planning through environmentally sensitive areas. Parkway development has included conserving more than 3,400 acres of land, building wildlife bridges and other protections, and elevating the expressway to separate vehicles and wildlife.