To spur economic development, job creation and a continued superior quality of life, Mayor Teresa Jacobs is committed to leading a massive transformation of the County’s road systems, concurrent with collaborative regional efforts to rebuild Central Florida’s transportation and transit infrastructure. In the next five years, through Orange County’s INVEST road improvement projects, and together with federal, statewide, regional and local transportation partners, approximately $11.7 billion of infrastructure-enhancing projects will deliver massive improvements to highways, commuter roads, rail and air travel in Central Florida.
Orange County Celebrated New Stretch of Wekiva Parkway
The Wekiva Parkway, which will benefit the lives of thousands of Floridians and will improve the state's opportunities for smart-managed growth, remains one of Mayor Jacobs’ greatest priorities. When completed, the 25-mile toll road will make travel easier and more convenient through Lake, Orange and Seminole counties and will relieve congestion.
Orange County and the Central Florida Expressway Authority celebrated the opening of a newly built 5-mile stretch of the Wekiva Parkway in July. This new portion begins at U.S. Highway 441 and extends north to Kelly Park Road, connecting to the Florida Turnpike and State Road 408.
When completed, the Wekiva Parkway is expected to connect to State Road 417, completing the beltway around Central Florida, while helping to protect natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River. Construction on the first phase began in 2014 and is expected to be finished in 2021. The project, which is a cooperative effort between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and CFX, is estimated to cost $1.6 billion and will include $500 million of non-toll road improvements. Once completed, the Wekiva Parkway will cover 25 miles in Orange, Seminole and Lake counties.
The parkway was designed and built to preserve the natural resources and the wildlife in the area. Throughout the construction process, more than 3,400 acres of land was set aside for conservation. The parkway includes wildlife bridges to help prevent accidents between drivers and wildlife.
New Pine Hills Bike Trail Opened
Funded by Federal Enhancement dollars administrated by the Florida Department of Transportation, the 2.5-mile Pine Hills Trail was completed ahead of schedule in August. Pine Hills Trail is the third-most needed trail in Orange County’s Trails Master Plan. The trail will be a valued recreational asset to this high-density residential area, which has more than 60,000 residents.
To support Pine Hills’ ongoing renaissance and renewal efforts, Orange County also conducted the Pine Hills Road Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Study, which extended from State Road 50 to Bonnie Brae Circle. The study evaluated barriers and challenges to safety and identified opportunities for implementing safety improvements along Pine Hills Road for people walking, bicycling, driving or taking the bus. A series of community meetings collected data and analysis in addition to feedback from a community survey.
INVEST Program Expanded Local Roadways
With I-4 Ultimate and Beyond the Ultimate underway, Mayor Jacobs remains focused on local roadways and transportation connectivity in Orange County, with pedestrian safety as a top priority. To meet Orange County’s future needs — from leisure and recreation to business, commerce and quality of life — the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) continues to work steadily on Mayor Jacobs’ $300 million INVEST program announced at the 2015 State of the County.
Ten projects have been approved by the BCC for inclusion in the roadway program. Additionally, $15 million has been allocated for pedestrian safety improvements at intersections and other selected locations to enhance sidewalks, crosswalks, signals, turn lanes, updated signage and other necessary improvements.
Through Mayor Jacobs’ Walk-Ride-Thrive! initiative, Orange County is maintaining a coordinated, comprehensive, and consistent response to pedestrian and bicycle safety issues including pedestrian safety projects. Walk-Ride-Thrive! messaging about pedestrian safety will also be featured on 30 metro bus benches. Public Works is placing five bus benches within each district in Orange County.
International Drive Transit Options
Mayor Jacobs continues to be a driving force for creating high-quality visitor and resident experiences, including the I-Drive trolley.
Mayor Jacobs is the chair of the International Drive (I-Drive) Master Transit and Improvement District Governing Board that, among other responsibilities, oversees the planning and operations of the I-Ride Trolley transit service. Recognizing the importance of creating a shared vision for the International Drive area, Mayor Jacobs appointed a Steering Review Group (SRG) composed of I-Drive-area stakeholders and landowners who are committed to maintaining I-Drive as the world’s premier global destination for tourism and family entertainment. The Orange County Board of County Commissioners accepted the SRG’s I-Drive 2040 Vision in November 2015, and a premium transit system is a critical component of that vision.
Orange County continues to support an enhanced transit system for the International Drive area that utilizes modern technology to provide mobility options that support the success of the Orange County Convention Center and are comparable to other successful destination cities. The goal is to plan for a system that would serve not only visitors and tourists, but also the entire community, including the business corridor and job centers within the I-Drive area. A Transit Feasibility Study will be launched in order to explore potential technologies, alignments and funding strategies. The region looks forward to the outcome of this study, which would include identifying next steps.
Railway Expansion Continued
As a governing board member and past chair of the Central Florida Rail Commission, Mayor Jacobs celebrated the 2014 grand opening of SunRail and continues to support commuter rail through construction of the Brightline, connecting Orlando International Airport with Miami.
Construction on SunRail’s Phase 2 South is currently underway, linking Sand Lake Road in Orange County to Poinciana in Osceola County. The entire Phase 2 South expansion project is a 17.2-mile segment that will feature four additional stations to the existing rail system and is expected to be up and running by mid-2018.
Phase 2 North will link DeBary to DeLand in Volusia County. The entire Phase 2 North expansion project is a 12-mile segment that will add one station to the existing rail system. Orange County continues to work with regional, state and federal transportation partners on dedicated funding sources for transit including LYNX and SunRail.
SunRail, LYNX and the GOAA have also worked together to develop a cohesive program aimed to educate both airport employees and the general public about the LYNX Non-Stop Link 111 service from SunRail’s Sand Lake Road station to Terminal A at the Orlando International Airport (OIA).
I-4 Ultimate Continues as Beyond the Ultimate Plans Take Shape
As one of the most high-profile roadway projects statewide, motorists have begun to experience noticeable changes on the $2.3 billion I-4 Ultimate construction project, a public-private partnership overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), connecting the Tampa Bay and Central Florida regions. The 21-mile improvement project from west of Kirkman Road to east of State Road 434 will also add four new express lanes in the center of I-4. Since the ceremonial groundbreaking in February 2015, the project has moved toward the anticipated need of 2,000 jobs, including 250 on-the-job trainees.
While the I-4 Ultimate reconstruction project continues to progress toward completion in 2021, FDOT also is moving ahead with plans for a set of projects known as Beyond the Ultimate. The proposed Beyond the Ultimate consists of five different project segments and comprises approximately 40 miles. Twenty of those 40 miles run from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to just west of the S.R. 25 and U.S. 27 interchange in Polk County. Another 20 miles run from east of S.R. 434 in Seminole County to just east of S.R. 472 in Volusia County.
Public informational meetings about the Beyond the Ultimate project have been progressing for several years and will continue as the individual projects move ahead. Each segment of the project must undergo a stringent several-step process that includes planning, environmental study, preliminary design, right-of-way considerations, design and construction.
Each of the five segments of the 40-mile Beyond the Ultimate project are at different stages of funding, and some timelines and funding amounts will change. Currently, the area closest to a construction date is Segment 2, which is a 3.5-mile section that runs between the Beachline Expressway, S.R. 528 and Kirkman Road, with construction of that segment likely starting in late 2019. All segments will include four dynamic tolled Express Lanes, with two in each direction, and six non-tolled lanes.
Orlando International Airport Expansion Efforts Soar
With a total record of more than 44 million annual passengers in 2017, Orlando International Airport is the second-busiest airport in Florida and 13th busiest nationwide. Orlando International Airport has 18,000 employees and generates $31 billion in direct and indirect revenue for the regional economy.
As the region continues to be the premier global family entertainment destination and as the Orange County Convention Center continues to grow and attract guests from around the world, Orange County continues to provide high-quality experiences and services to residents, guests and commercial visitors and businesses travelers. In 2016, Orlando International Airport experienced an increase of 14 percent in international travel, and the new record of passengers is an 8 percent increase over 2015.
With passenger traffic continuing to reach historic record levels, Orlando International Airport is engaging in multiple construction projects. Key elements of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s (GOAA) $3 billion Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) are in various stages and will enhance operational efficiency, accommodate growth and expand accessibility when completed.
The multi-year plan of major capital projects is based on expected annual passengers and is linked to GOAA’s strategic goals developed from it’s Master Plan process.
In 2017, construction activity began on the $1.8 billion South Terminal Complex (STC) Phase 1 Terminal C at Orlando International Airport. The first phase of the STC will feature 16 gates with a flexible configuration that will accommodate narrow body, jumbo and super jumbo aircraft. With projected completion slated for 2020, the STC includes a total sustainable building program comprised of approximately 2.7 million square feet for international and domestic flights, additional parking and an expanded taxiway encompassing approximately 300 acres.
Historic Expressway Improvements to Expand Miles of Roadways
In May 2017, the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) Board voted unanimously to adopt a $1.6 billion work plan, the largest ever in CFX’s history. The plan will fund capital and maintenance improvements to its expressways over the next five years. The plan includes approximately 40 miles of widening existing expressways, 60 miles of resurfacing, improved roadway lighting and signs, a new state-of-the-art toll collection system and safety projects.
Some of the largest investments in the plan are completing CFX’s sections of the Wekiva Parkway. Additionally, a $230 million contribution to the state will be used for the I-4 Ultimate SR 408/I-4 Interchange project. CFX plans to have its work plan projects designed, built and operational by 2022 — the end of the new work plan. The plan is projected to create more than 11,000 jobs in Central Florida and contribute $1 billion in gross domestic product to the local economy. CFX also expanded its regional network to include Brevard County under House Bill 299, signed into law in June, joining Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, as well as the City of Orlando.