State wants expressway authority to take over section of Wekiva Parkway

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - One way or another, the Wekiva Parkway is going to be built. The question is, who will pay for it??

The state is now suggesting Orange County pick up the tab, even though the project is outside county lines.

"It's about 25 miles from my house down to (State Road) 408," said Leigh Brennan.

Brennan drives S.R. 408 almost every day. Drivers like her pay tolls that are used to pay for almost all the construction by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, including the authority's current construction on the Wekiva Parkway.

Now, those tolls may be expected to pay for more.

"No, not excited about that," said Brennan.

The state is committed to building the parkway but has suggested that the Expressway Authority take over its section in Lake and Seminole counties; some $200 million worth of roads and interchanges.

"The game plan is to have the whole 25-mile tolled road done by 2021," said Steve Olson of the Florida Department of Transportation.

The non-tolled part of the parkway would still be built by the FDOT, but the state would turn over the sections in Seminole and Lake counties to the Expressway Authority.

"Leadership's position is, it's going to get built, the question is how do you build it?" said Lake Mary Deputy Mayor Gary Brender. "Whether that works, whether they can do it without toll increase is probably up for discussion."

Lake and Seminole counties would want some authority over the parkway, that is something they wouldn't have if the expressway authority finishes the build.

The Expressway Authority hasn't begun discussion on the issue yet.

The Expressway Authority said the only way it would consider picking up the extra sections of roadway is if there is no toll increase.