• $78M Turnpike project at SR 417 to break ground in 2014


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A major turnpike project will finally get underway in Orange County.

    Florida's Turnpike and State Road 417 just east of Hunters Creek don't connect, which is an inconvenience to people trying to get to Medical City.

    Officials said the Turnpike project that wasn't supposed to begin until around 2019 may actually be finished by then.

    Drivers on the Turnpike can look up and watch as they pass underneath State Road 417, but there isn't a ramp to be seen to connect the two.

    Ricardo Santiago's drive between Lake Nona and Maitland sounds like a math equation.

    "(S.R.) 417 to (S.R.) 408 and jump that up to I-4," Santiago said.

    It's not one that works out in his favor as a hair stylist split between both areas, so he's looking for a faster way to get north of Orlando and back.

    "More time for me in the chair or working is better for me because that's more money, more income for my business," Santiago said.

    Back in October, the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority was going to build the first two ramps, and Florida's Turnpike had plans to build the others, with no future date set.

    Latest project details for the Turnpike reveal officials plan to build their ramps at the same time, pushing the project up by five years.

    "They don't want to hinder what they see happening here, because there's probably no place else in the metro Orlando area where growth is happening so rapidly," said Orlando Chamber of Commerce chair Carol Ann Dykes.

    New ramps mean new tolls. Two new tolls will be added to the Turnpike's northbound and southbound ramps. How much they will cost is still being worked out.

    "No one likes paying tolls, but I think in the end the convenience is worth it," Santiago said.

    Florida's Turnpike officials plan to start construction late 2014, with the goal of opening up the interchange to drivers by 2017.

    The Turnpike's portion of the project will cost $78 million.

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