Wekiva Parkway project will take years to complete



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The first stretch of Wekiva Parkway will open to drivers in 2 years.

WFTV's Racquel Asa got a look at the plans and learned that the entire 25-mile project won't be finished until 2021.

Joe Chavis said the niche he has carved for himself with his sawmill business in east Lake County is in trouble.

Chavis said he's worried that once the Wekiva Parkway is built, he'll be cut out.

"My business? I won't have no business," said Chavis. "That means I've got seven, eight people that are going to be out of work, plus myself."

Chavis said 80- percent of his business depends on the number of cars that travel the road that goes past his place. He said if they take traffic off the road, his customers will have to backtrack a mile to access his business.

But Chavis has time to prepare. The part of the road project that Chavis said will cut him out won't be finished until 2020.

Within the next five years officials plan to open up five sections of the new toll road in Zellwood, Mount Plymouth and Mount Dora.

For many drivers the new toll sections will mean a big change. All 25 miles, from Interstate 4 in Seminole to west Orange County, will be cashless, which means drivers will need a transponder to use the road, or else they will be billed through their car's' license plates.

"It's going to be expensive to the individuals who want to go back and forth. Many people, in my opinion, will avoid the area altogether because of that," said Bill Smalley of the East Lake County Chamber of Commerce.

Chavis said that has him worried

"It's hard because it's put my whole family out," said Chavis.

Contractors behind the design told Asa that complications with federally protected land have pushed the project's finish date nearly a decade down the road.