Guest post by T.J. Fish
Florida’s state flower is the orange blossom. The state animal is the Florida panther. The state tree apparently is the orange barrel because you see so many of them when driving on Florida roads. Get ready for many more of those state trees in Lake County because the road construction is coming. In fact, it is already here.
People tend to love progress. But they tend to dislike change. The times, they are a-changing. Massive transportation investments exceeding a billion dollars are about to transform Mount Dora and eastern Lake County by providing a new level of connectivity to the Central Florida metro of 3.5 million people. That connectivity will provide Lake County residents with unprecedented access to the region. It will also provide access to folks who want to experience the authenticity of Mount Dora and the Golden Triangle.
That means more visitors who want to visit for the day or the weekend. That also means more homebuyers who want to escape the plastic fantastic world of theme parks and cookie cutter subdivisions. It is phenomenal the number of people who have been charmed by their visit to Mount Dora to the point that they decide to relocate to the lakeside village. So what exactly is about to happen? Here is an overview.
The Orlando beltway is about to be completed with the construction of SR 429 from Apopka into Lake County and on to Sanford. SR 429 will intersect in Sanford at Interstate 4 and SR 417 finally closing the gap in the beltway. SR 429 is now under construction east of Mount Plymouth and will replace the current SR 46 east of Camp Challenge to the Wekiva River with an elevated toll road that will be one of the most environmentally-friendly expressways ever constructed. It will even include a toll-free two-lane parallel roadway and a paved trail that will connect to the Central Florida Coast to Coast Trail.
SR 46 east of Mount Dora will be replaced with a six-lane roadway to the new SR 453 toll road you can now see under construction just east of Round Lake Road. Note the beautiful bridge now being constructed over SR 46 and the Florida Central Railroad. SR 453 is being built by the Central Florida Expressway Authority and it is basically a spur from Lake County into Orange County to the new piece of the SR 429 beltway.
The interchange in Mount Dora of US 441 and SR 46 will soon be a thing of the past as it is replaced with a flyover that will accommodate a new traffic flow from Mount Dora to the beltway via SR 46 and SR 453. All of Lake County pieces of the project, known as the Wekiva Parkway, will be complete in Lake County by the end of 2019. Yes, only two years from now.
In addition to all of that transportation investment, there are pending projects to widen US 441 to six lanes through Mount Dora and to widen two miles of SR 44 to four lanes from Lowe’s north to the turn to DeLand. Dates have not yet been set for those projects.
Some claim “they” widen the roads to cause growth. That is rarely the case. These roadway projects are coming because we live in one of the most robust regional economies in the nation and in the world. The growth is already here and more is coming. With that inevitable growth comes the opportunity to do things right. Mount Dora’s city government has a vision to capitalize on these transportation investments through the creation of a high-end jobs center. The Wolf Branch Innovation District is an area designated for economic development and it is located right where the SR 453 spur from the beltway intersects at SR 46 and Round Lake Road. If this vision is realized, our local economy will flourish.
At this point, some of you probably are wishing you had a map to make sense of all this. Just go to http://wekivaparkway.com and use the interactive map that breaks down all of the details of each piece of this massive project. Again, Lake County’s roadway projects will be complete in two years. The entire beltway project will wrap up in Seminole County in 2021. If you are thinking of buying a home or starting a business in Mount Dora or the Golden Triangle, the future is now. By the way, Florida’s state tree is actually the sabal palm. Get ready for those orange barrels.
Thank you to our guest blogger T. J. Fish!