Officials open State Road 429 interchange at Schofield Road

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  • | 9:29 a.m. June 4, 2015
Officials open State Road 429 interchange at Schofield Road
Officials open State Road 429 interchange at Schofield Road
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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HORIZON WEST — The Central Florida Expressway Authority, created by state statute in June 2014, celebrated its first project opening May 27, at the interchange of State Road 429 and Schofield Road.

Officials from Orange and Lake counties gathered to cut the ribbon for four ramps and two ramp plazas after just 10 months of construction. This beat the mandate in the CFEA’s agreement with the prior property owner by more than a year, said Welton Cadwell, a Lake County commissioner and chairman of the CFEA.

“We beat it by a year — that’s the type of folks you’ve had running the expressway authority and managing these projects,” Cadwell said. “One of our purposes as the expressway authority is connectivity in Central Florida, and this is just one more piece. This is important to me because, as the crow flies, Lake County is right there. … So it just proves that the new expressway authority is a true regional partner in this area, and we want to continue to be that.”

Plazas will have exact-change and dedicated E-PASS lanes, with rates at 55 cents with a pass and 75 cents without. The cost of construction was about $10 million.

The first 10-mile part of State Road 429 opened in 2000, and a full beltway around Central Florida is that much closer to completion with this interchange, Cadwell said.

Another name for this road is Daniel Webster Western Beltway, and its namesake attended the interchange celebration last week.

“I came with my boots for the Western Beltway and my 429 belt buckle,” U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster said. “It’s great to be here.”

In 1985, this section was part of what was called the Golden Ring for a beltway around Orlando, and in 1988, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives took the $66 billion for which Webster had gotten approval to fund the beltway, he said.

“It took me about eight years to get it back, but we got it back; bought the right-of-way; built the road; and it’s really just an awesome picture of what ought to happen in this area,” Webster said. “It’s a beautiful opportunity for Orange County to expand itself, but at this particular interchange, it’s going to be great for Lake County. There is connectivity … all the way over to (U.S.) 27.”

Webster praised the CFEA for its planning and building, critical to the local economy.

“Infrastructure is so important — we have to get people to us,” he said. “We had 62 million people visit our communities — more than other community in the world — and transportation is a huge part of that. We need people coming here, and every interchange, every road we build, every road we expand is a part of building our economy so that our lives will be better here in Central Florida. It may be the first, but it’s only a small picture of what’s going to happen in the near future.”

Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd, vice-chairman of the CFEA, said this interchange will help with transportation in southwest Orange County, which contains 43% of housing starts in the county.

“The interchange is also going to help alleviate congestion on our local roads, with 60,000 new single-family housing starts … in this area,” Boyd said. “(It’s) home to 27,000 residents now. When this whole area is … fully developed, it will be about 90,000 residents that will live here, connected with trails, and the spine of the 429 and this interchange is huge.”

This interchange marks the southern boundary of the Horizon West Town Center, with a 16,000-acre sector plan along the county line and critical connectivity to U.S. 27, he said. In conjunction with New Independence Parkway and New Independence and Hamlin trails, connectivity in development patterns sets Horizon West and Central Florida apart from the rest of Florida, he said.

Boyd also mentioned the Orange County National Golf Course — just east of this interchange at the end of Schofield Road — as a destination for up to 50,000 visitors when a PGA event is occurring, and that those visitors would benefit from use of the interchange.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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