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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 5 days ago

CFX evaluating east-west tollway connecting Orange, Lake counties

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The Central Florida Expressway Authority is studying the feasibility of constructing a toll road connecting U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 429. 
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

The Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) is seeking public feedback regarding a possible tollway under consideration by the transportation agency. 

CFX, which presently operates about 118 miles of toll roads in Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, has had its engineers study the viability of building a five-mile toll road between U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 429 between Clermont and southwest Orange County.

At present, there are few east-west roads capable of carrying high-volume traffic in the area. To the north, there is State Road 50, and to the south, there is U.S. 192 – both of which are highly congested six-lane roadways.

“This Lake/Orange County connector is looking at providing high-speed direct access between U.S. 27 in the west and State Road 429 in the east,” said Kathy Putnam, the public involvement coordinator for the project’s study. “This will be really important for people from Lake County who need to get over to southwest Orange County and maybe to go to work over in the theme park area,  as well as for people from Orange County who want to get over to Lake County or Clermont. So it will be able to move a lot of people between these two major roadways.”

CFX held its first public informational meeting regarding the proposed Lake/Orange County connector toll road on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Clermont Arts and Recreation Center. A second public open-house meeting was held Thursday, March 7 at Bridgewater Middle School.

The public was invited to view large maps depicting the general vicinity identified as the most optimal location to place the tollway and resulted in minimal impacts on surrounding properties and environments.

The location is in the vicinity of Schofield Road, where there's an existing interchange with State Road 429 by exit No. 13. CFX engineers have now narrowed down the options to four alternative alignments, down from the original 20 combinations presented in the first meeting.

During the next month, project engineers will identify the recommended alignment according to public input, refine the details and conduct a financial analysis to get a cost estimate. The findings will then be presented at a public hearing at the end of June. At that hearing, CFX hopes to hear from the public whether they should continue to move forward and fund the project or wait another few years.

Putnam said the project will not be funded using taxpayer dollars, as all Central Florida Expressway authority toll roads are planned, designed and built with toll dollars.

"This is all toll funds, so if you don't drive this road, you're not paying for it,” she said. “And all toll dollars paid into the CFX system stay on the CFX system. So all toll dollars are going right back into maintaining, operating and expanding the system as needed, like this Lake/Orange County connector."

To view the project web page, visit bit.ly/2MdwCmH. And for more information, contact the Central Florida Expressway Authority at (407) 802-3210 or via email at [email protected].

Gabby is the news editor for the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer newspapers. Have a story tip? Contact her at (352) 448-5856 or at [email protected]....

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