Wekiva Parkway breaks ground, set to open 2021

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SANFORD, Fla. - The ground work to finally complete the beltway around central Florida was laid Wednesday.

It's taken 30 years to get the funding finalized for the toll road that will eventually connect Apopka and Sanford.

All 25 miles of the Wekiva Parkway project from Apopka to Sanford can be seen from a map, and the last section will be over the Wekiva River.

A toss of the dirt started major work on the new toll road, which now has now has the $1.5 billion needed to get it built and finished.

"People are moving to our state. Jobs are coming back to our state, so part of what we are going to continue to do is build," Gov. Rick Scott said.

Leslie Messer won't just drive the road, she's helping build it.

It's the first job she's had in three years.

"This job has changed my life immensely," Messer said.

Taxpayers aren't paying just once for the project, but twice with the tolls on the new road, about 15 cents per mile.

That works out to $3.75 to go one way from Apopka to Sanford, and drivers won't be able to use the road unless they have a E-Pass transponder.

"You can get the minipass for $5. It's less than what a happy meal is at McDonald's," said Ananth Prasad, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.

It'll take at least seven years before all 13 sections of the project are finished.

The parkway will be open to drivers by 2021.