Major work on the Wekiva Parkway begins


CENTRAL FLORIDA - There was a ceremonial kick-off Wednesday to commemorate the start of major work on the Wekiva Parkway.

The new toll road won't be finished until 2020, but it will complete the beltway around central Florida.

Officials said the first section of the road will open by next year, but once the project is finished, it will create 36,000 jobs.

With a ceremonial shovel, major construction on the Wekiva Parkway kicked off with the planting of a tree.

"We are going to continue to grow our state and when we do that we increase our access on the roads," said Gov. Rick Scott.

The state has to preserve much of the land where the road is built, since it's environmentally sensitive.

But, it's not just another road for Leslie Messer. She says it's a job after being unemployed for a couple of years. She made a career change into construction.

"I have a 6-year-old daughter; trying to be a single mom and have a better life for the two of us. This job has changed my life immensely," she said.

Messer is working on the first section of the parkway at the Lake and Orange County line.

"After the job ends, I'm hoping to have opportunities in other areas as well," Messer said.

The last part of the project will finish in 2021. Drivers will need an Epass to travel the new roadway, because the 25-mile road will be electronically tolled.