The estimated cost for building the 12-mile Osceola Parkway Extension toll road tops out at more than $1 billion, according to final calculations presented during a public hearing Tuesday at Osceola Heritage Park.
The formal hearing is the final step of the Project Development & Environmental (PD&E) study first launched by the Osceola County Expressway Authority and consulting engineer Kimley-Horn back in 2012.
OCX Chairman Atlee Mercer said the final recommended road alignments present the best possible solution for the area's growing transportation needs.
"We had the opportunity to get great input from the community all throughout this process," OCX Chairman Atlee Mercer said. "We made hundreds of changes -- both major and minor. In the end, we think we nailed it."
The Osceola Parkway Extension (OPE), which includes a full interchange with the S.R. 417 Beltway and direct access to Orlando International Airport, is the agency's highest priority among its four remaining toll road projects. OCX already has $70 million earmarked for right-of-way acquisition.
The OCX board is expected to approve the final "build alternative" in the spring. The Central Florida Expressway Authority will ultimately determine if and when the toll road gets built.
CFX is negotiating with CH2M Hill to conduct a financial feasibility study.
Mike Snyder, former executive director of the defunct Orlando-Orange Expressway Authority, is now with CH2M Hill and said the firm is eager to get started. He expects to bring a contract to the CFX board in February. Mark Callahan, who led similar studies for the Wekiva Parkway and I-4 Ultimate, will serve as project manager.
The project is divided into three segments, beginning at the S.R. 417 interchange and extending along the east side of Boggy Creek Road. Another interchange is planned at Simpson Road, where the project continues along the north side of the Orange-Osceola county line through the city-owned Poitras property.
The central segment includes future interchanges at Medical City Drive and Narcoossee Road. An underpass will allow for cross-access from Boggy Creek Road to the south.
The eastern segment continues through a section of Eagle Creek that is entitled, but not yet developed. The route avoids other future planned developments and bisects the Split Oak Forest before extending another two miles into the future Sunbridge community, which will be developed by Tavistock. It includes a dedicated transit corridor and multi-use trails within the right-of-way.
The entire segment through the Split Oak Forest would be elevated, according to the plan. Representatives from several environmental groups, including Sierra Club and Audubon Society, spoke in opposition to the project Tuesday night.