‘Most sustainable’? The new SR 516 balances natural harmony with growth-oriented access

By | April 1, 2024

Called “a revolutionary testbed for in-vehicle electric charging,” the new State Road 516 portion of the Central Florida Expressway (CFX) is designed to provide a balance of convenience and environmentally conscious green spaces, as well as “wildlife ‘. tunnels.”

“This project is likely the most sustainable project CFX has ever designed,” said Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks.

Parks, a member of CFX’s board of directors, has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in engineering management. He contributed his Lake County and logistics insights to the project.

The CFX Authority is planning a multi-use trail as part of the State Road 516 project.The CFX Authority is planning a multi-use trail as part of the State Road 516 project.

The CFX Authority is planning a multi-use trail as part of the State Road 516 project.

What is involved?

The new 4.5-mile Lake/Orange Expressway, which will be constructed in three segments, will provide connectivity between Lake and Orange counties.

It will break ground on the 6000 block of Cook Road, Clermont, on April 4 at 10:30 a.m.. The event will feature remarks from dignitaries.

Construction of the first 2.6-mile, four-lane highway segment will include an interchange with US 27 and a realignment of US 27 to accommodate the interchange while avoiding impacts to Lake Louisa State Park, according to a CFX report .

The segment will include the “CFX Advancing Sustainability Through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE) Pilot Project,” which will test a solution that charges both consumer and commercial electric vehicles through the electrification of the roadway to charge vehicles at highway speeds.

The road’s first pilot project will introduce a wireless charging system installed within a three-quarter mile section of this segment. The system only works on specially equipped vehicles used for initial loading lane testing.

What if someone is thrown from a vehicle during an accident? Could they be electrocuted? No, it is not more dangerous for people with pacemakers or animals, we are told.

“We will be equipping a small fleet of vehicles of various sizes for use in the EV Charging Lane Pilot Project,” said Brian Hutchings, communications manager for the CFX. “These vehicles will be driven by members of the CFX/ASPIRE test team.”

SR 516 is the first in the country to use so-called variable or dynamic wireless charging. There are three vehicle classifications: one for passengers, one for medium trucks and one for large trucks. They need three different voltages to charge their EV batteries. The highway will also provide faster access for businesses and residents of the Horizon West Town Center, emergency services and hurricane evacuations.

When can all EV drivers charge their vehicles? ‘We do not know that. Nobody knows,” Hutchings replied. “This is a pilot project that will hopefully move this technology forward in that direction. But many things still need to happen before it becomes widespread. You have to change the laws, have uniform specifications, build roads, the car manufacturers the vehicles. It will take several years, if not decades.”

Segment 2, Cook Road to the Orange/Lake County Line, includes a 3-mile segment that includes an interchange with the future extension of County Road 455 planned by Lake County.

The final 1.5-mile segment, Orange/Lake County Line to State Road 429, includes interchange ramps with Valencia Parkway, a system interchange with 429, toll plazas at interchange ramps, and a portion of Valencia Parkway between the interchange ramps and Schofield Road. The interchange at State Road 429 and Schofield Road will remain.

“State Road 516 will cost nearly $550 million to build, including nearly $14 million for the electric vehicle charging project,” Hutchings said.

The highway, officials say, will help meet the future travel needs of a fast-growing area that has become a residential, commercial and medical hub.

The area served by an interchange with County Road 455 has been described as a hotbed of real estate investment opportunities, especially for light industrial manufacturing.The area served by an interchange with County Road 455 has been described as a hotbed of real estate investment opportunities, especially for light industrial manufacturing.

The area served by an interchange with County Road 455 has been described as a hotbed of real estate investment opportunities, especially for light industrial manufacturing.

‘Meeting the travel needs of a growing area’

The SR 516 route will also provide “wildlife protection” through tunnels for migrating deer, bears and other moving animals, along with a multi-use trail for people.

As with other parts of the highway, three solar panels will be placed along the roadway. The corridor is expected to be completed in 2027.

Commissioner Parks says the route will improve connectivity options for Lake and Orange counties, meet projected transportation demand for planned growth, support economic viability and job creation for the Wellness Way Area Plan (by the Lake County proposed as a mixed-use area providing employment, residential, institutional, agricultural and green spaces).

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The SR 516 freeway will help bring light and clean industrial growth to the area, Parks explained, especially on one axis point.

“The land surrounding the intersection of the 516 and County Road 455, once the highway is constructed, will be considered some of the most valuable real estate in all of Central Florida.”

The location is “so hot” because it helps commuters avoid I-4, Parks said. “So if you do the final assembly and then ship it – which we are trying to do as a state – it will speed up the final assembly of raw materials and materials that are already manufactured at Wellness Way. There are 700 to 800 hectares of good real estate. And that is exactly what manufacturers want.’

Improvements to the entire highway system in central Florida are underway. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) opened the remaining lanes of the Wekiva Parkway, which connect state highways 429, 417 and I-4, on January 27. FDOT encourages motorists to use a SunPass to save tolls on the CFX. Those without a SunPass or Florida-accepted transponder can pay their tolls via Toll-by-Plate. Learn more about travel costs along the Parkway on Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise Toll Rates website. Some work on the project will continue in the coming months, which may require lanes or ramps.

“I’m very proud of what CFX has done,” Parks added. “The board, the other board members and the very talented staff have been focused on being very conservation-oriented for as long as I can remember.”

This article originally appeared on Daily Commercial: A highway of the future? CFX’s SR 516 project begins this week

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