CFX breaks ground on S.R. 516

CFX has broken ground on the 4.4-mile State Road 516 Lake/Orange Expressway, which county officials believe will provide much-needed connectivity between Lake and Orange counties.

Myriad stakeholders scooped the dirt to commemorate the groundbreaking of the new expressway.
Myriad stakeholders scooped the dirt to commemorate the groundbreaking of the new expressway.
Courtesy photo
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A new expressway soon will connect Orange County’s thriving business and tourism economy with Lake County’s blooming landscapes and abundant water bodies. 

The Central Florida Expressway Authority broke ground on the new State Road 516 Lake/Orange Expressway Thursday, April 4, in Clermont. 

The project is divided into three seperate segments between the two counties.
Courtesy photo

The new 4.4-mile expressway, constructed in three segments, will provide much-needed connectivity between Lake and Orange counties.

The groundbreaking event featured remarks from several key speakers and dignitaries, including Michelle Maikisch, CFX executive director; Brandon Arrington, CFX chairman; Sean Parks, Lake County commissioner; and Jerry L. Demings, Orange County mayor.

“With the tremendous growth that our region is experiencing, we need roads,” Demings said. “We need to move people around much more efficiently. … Being within the center of the state, we have to be intentional with how we connect our roadways. … For residents and businesses in West Orange County, State Road 516 is a welcome, future-forward community asset … This new road is a pioneering example of how roads can be planned and designed sustainably with less impact on our ecosystems and with more applications of transportation technology. … State Road 516 will link residents to jobs, education and much more across our counties and open access to some of the region’s most dynamic communities.”

As the project continues to move forward, District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson asks residents to remain patient and safely navigate the construction areas with caution. 

“This project truly showcases the close coordination and partnership between the counties, CFX and multiple other leaders in our community,” she said. “Once completed, it will be one of several opportunities for residents to travel between Lake and Orange counties safer and more efficiently. Sustainability is yet another benefit of this project, as well as the piloted technology that may be able to be implemented in other areas moving forward. This will hopefully take pressure off some of our other areas in District 1, such as Avalon Road.”

Officials from both Orange and Lake counties worked together to make the expressway a reality.
Courtesy photo


Built with innovation in mind, S.R. 516 will serve as a revolutionary testbed for electric in-vehicle charging. 

“I’ve always known that a good transportation system is important,” Parks said. “We know that it’s important for our economy; it’s important for moving people around. … Today, we are celebrating a culmination of exploration and determination to do more than just move cars along State Road 516. Today is going to kick off a pretty extraordinary and extensive construction effort.”

According to CFX, S.R. 516 will be the most sustainable project ever delivered by the organization. 

The CFX Advancing Sustainability Through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification Pilot Project will test a solution that “brings the charge to the vehicle” for both consumer and commercial electric vehicles through the electrification of the roadway to charge vehicles at highway speeds. 

The pilot project will introduce a wireless charging system installed within a 3/4-mile-long section of the travel lanes of Segment 1 of S.R. 516. The system only will work on specially equipped vehicles that will be used for initial testing of the charging lane.

S.R. 516 also will help to meet the future travel needs of an area that has blossomed into a fast-growing residential, commercial and medical hub. 

The expressway will feature wildlife protection and a multi-use trail to deliver a world-class roadway.

CFX’s project goals for the new S.R. 516 include improving connectivity opportunities for Lake and Orange counties; meeting anticipated transportation demand for planned growth; supporting economic viability/job creation for the Wellness Way Area Plan; increasing intermodal opportunities with Horizon West Town Center; providing evacuation and emergency services access for emergency events, such as hurricanes; and creating a sustainable, environmentally friendly facility that balances transportation needs with conservation and energy efficiency.

The estimated construction cost for the project is $546 million.

Construction on the first section of the project, from the Lake/Orange County line to State Road 429 just south of Schofield Road, will begin in May. Construction on the remaining two segments is anticipated to get underway later this year.

Construction for the new expressway is estimated to be completed in late 2027.

Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, right, was all smiles at the groundbreaking event.
Courtesy photo


Former District 1 Commissioner S. Scott Boyd said the expressway is an important piece of the overall regional transportation puzzle that has been in the works for nearly 14 years.

“When I took office in late 2008, the housing market was locked down due to the recession and foreclosures, which had drained the Orange County budget,” he said. “Stalled infrastructure projects and community amenities, such as parks and trails, were my office’s priority to move forward. The area west of Horizon West in Orange and Lake (counties) had been planned to have several corridors. However, (they were) never secured and in concept only.”

Boyd said he had lobbied former expressway authority Chairman Walter Ketchum on the New Independence/S.R. 429 interchange extension east to the Summerport and Independence communities.  

“We secured the PD&E funding in 2010, along with Boyd Development, who secured what was then Horizon West Town Center east of the 429,” Boyd said. “In 2012, the New Independence Parkway, along with Hamlin Trail, was built creating critical connectivity west of the developed areas of Horizon West to the 429 and pulling away traffic from County Road 535 (Hamlin). The completion of the four-lane widening of C.R. 535 from Summerport north to the 429 was completed and opened by Dewitt Construction and Orange County in November of 2012.”

Former District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, who served from 2016 to 2020, said her father was one of the visionaries who worked on regional transportation issues facing West Orange and South Lake by way of the West Orange-South Lake Transportation Task Force in the late 1990s. 

The task force was able to advocate and obtain funding for the widening of State Road 50 decades ahead of originally scheduled timing. 

“When my predecessor (Boyd) was elected, he saw the same transportation challenges as it related to the Horizon West plan and reconstituted the task force to help identify and bring attention to the need for further connectivity for these two communities,” VanderLey said. “The task force identified three potential corridors.”

The group of stakeholders included developers, Lake and Orange County Government, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, the South East Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the city of Clermont, the city of Winter Garden, the Lake Avalon Homeowners Association and area land owners. 

“Knowing that when these areas would again begin developing, as we have seen today, these regional connections would be important to have in place,” Boyd said. “Over several years, we created the path forward for Wellness Way, Sawgrass Bay Boulevard, Schofield Road and what is now the 516 East Lake Expressway.”

When VanderLey was elected, she worked with Parks to strengthen their relationship across county lines, and she said the two met to discuss all three identified corridors.

“It became clear that all three were, and are, needed to serve the rapidly growing area,” she said. “I was able to direct CFX staff to evaluate the corridor, which is now going to be State Road 516, as the best route for an expressway and not a regional connector, as it is the least populated, has the least amount of impacts to the community and serves for majority of the residents as it is roughly halfway between to two corridors — Highway 50 and U.S. 192 — which currently serve as the most congested east-west connections for the two communities.”

VanderLey said the effort would not have been possible without the mutual respect and regional cooperation of Parks. 

“We were able to share the same vision throughout each of our tenures on the CFX board, and that consistent vision made it possible to keep staff moving forward on one unified vision,” she said.


“Today, Wellness Way will be completed in Lake County/Clermont within the next 12 months to the Orange County line and awaits Orange County to complete the last 1.5 miles to New Independence/545; connecting S.R 27 to the 429,” Boyd said. “Sawgrass Bay Boulevard has been completed to the Orange County line and awaits Orange County to complete the eastern portion to Avalon Road/545. The East West Expressway, funded and built entirely by the Central Florida Expressway Authority, will be completed from Lake County S.R. 27 to the CFX 429 in Orange County by 2027. Schofield Road from S.R. 27 to 545/Avalon and the 429 is open. However, the Orange County side has lacked leadership working with the area landowners on additional right of way needed for widening. CFX is looking at Schofield Road as a haul route for construction, and the County Commission will then need to pull the weight restrictions that are now in place.”

For more information on the project, click here.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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