Expressway Authority approves $230M for troubled interchange

Expressway Authority approves $230M for troubled interchange

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Monday evening, during what was likely its final meeting ever, the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority voted to approve a $230 million plan to ease traffic nightmares where Interstate 4 meets State Road 408. 

“It’s going to open things up and make it much easier to transition on and off the 408 and Interstate 4,” explained Board Chairman Walter Ketchum.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs also serves on the board.  FOX 35 asked her if the three-year project will ease congestion or just keep pace with it in the in future.  She believes the interchange will be made safer with the improvements, compared to what is now.

“It’s just a nightmare. It’s constantly an accident waiting to happen," said Mayor Jacobs.  "This will relieve that. Everybody will have their own lane to get on and off.  It’s a huge upgrade.”

Mayor Jacobs believes Gov. Rick Scott will soon sign a bill into law to create a new regional expressway authority to replace the existing board.  Jacobs said the new board will include more elected officials, which she believes will bring more accountability.  

Last week, a grand jury indicted three people stemming from an investigation into the business practices of the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority board. 

Former board member Scott Batterson, former state Rep. Chris Dorworth and former Florida Department of Transportation public affairs worker Rebekah Hammond have been charged with violating Florida's public records law, also known as the "Sunshine Law."

The indictment alleges Dorwoth and Hammond acted as liaisons to relay information between Batterson and former authority board member Marco Pena.

The indictments came just hours after Pena entered a guilty plea to violating the Sunshine Law, a misdemeanor count.  Pena was not required to be in court and entered his plea through his attorney.  As part of the plea agreement, Pena is avoiding jail time and probation, paying a $500 fine, and will not try to seal his court file.

This is the second indictment in as many months for Batterson, who faces additional charges of bribery and soliciting compensation for official behavior.
 

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