Expressway Authority OKs plan for Split Oak Forest road environmental protections

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Expressway Authority OKs plan for Split Oak Forest road environmental protections

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Central Florida Expressway Authority has signed off on a plan to provide environmental care for a large area of land to offset the effects of a proposed toll road through Split Oak Forest.

During a meeting Thursday, board members unanimously approved the resolution of support.

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The plan, which was presented by Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, calls for approximately $13 million in restoration and maintenance of 1,550 acres of Split Oak Forest for a 30-year period.

“I really wanted to see if there was a better way,” Constantine said.

Conservationists have opposed plans to extend Osceola Parkway through a portion of Split Oak. The Florida Communities Trust signed off on the proposal last month.

“Knowing that the road is going to be built, how can we do the very best to protect the land around it,” Constantine said.

The protections approved by CFX include not widening the easement after initial construction, elevating parts of the road for wildlife and linking the forest to other conservation areas.

“What we’re doing is trying to really put a balance to protect this land as much as we can, but at the same time we’re setting a precedent,” Constantine said.

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Board members said the resolution should serve as an environmental guide for future road projects.

While the toll road is still facing some opposition, Constantine said the plan approved Thursday is something that has universal support.

“Some people don’t want to build the road, but in that situation, this is the best solution that could happen,” he said.

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