On Wednesday, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) announced three Florida transportation agencies – the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX), Florida Department of Transportation – District Five (FDOT) and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) – have been jointly awarded the 2019 Toll Excellence Award for Social Responsibility for their work helping to protect the wildlife and other natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River, a National Wild and Scenic River and Outstanding Florida Waterway, during development of the 25-mile Wekiva Parkway (State Road 429).
The 2019 Toll Excellence Awards will formally be presented during IBTTA’s 87th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, September 15-17, 2019 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. One recipient will be honored with the prestigious President’s Award for Excellence during the awards ceremony.
“Central Florida Expressway Authority, Florida Department of Transportation – District Five and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise have been selected for their work together on the development and construction of the $1.6 billion Wekiva Parkway, helping to alleviate congestion, handle increased traffic volumes – while protecting the area’s wildlife and natural resources,” said Patrick Jones, the executive director and CEO of IBTTA, on Wednesday. “Each award winner has taken on a tough transportation challenge and worked with partners to find a practical solution. We’re incredibly proud of the work they’ve done to represent our industry. On behalf of the transportation community, we congratulate these three Florida transportation agencies on this well-deserve recognition.”
Laura Kelley, the executive director of CFX, weighed in on the awards.
“The Wekiva Parkway has always been about so much more than just finishing Central Florida’s beltway. Everyone from the community, the environmentalists and our regional leaders were adamant that this major transportation initiative had to be done in a way that helped protect the environment. And the thousands of citizens we heard from made it abundantly clear the expressway needed to have that ‘parkway feel’ – to blend in with the rural surroundings. The agency partners were dedicated in making this happen – and this award reinforces that accomplishment,” Kelley said.
“The 13 miles of the parkway available now have truly made an impact on the lives of Central Floridians – whether they’re daily commuters or folks headed to the attractions. When the remaining sections open by the end of 2022, the Wekiva Parkway truly will have become a game-changer for the region – and a model for smart transportation planning through sensitive natural areas everywhere,” said FDOT Sec. Kevin Thibault on Wednesday.
As the first all-electronic tolling (AET) corridor in Central Florida, the parkway provides environmental benefits in addition to safety and convenience.
“Because no cash booths will be available to accept tolls, vehicles do not have to stop and start at tolling points. This results in reduced emissions from vehicles and less air pollution as well as less noise in this environmentally sensitive area,” said Paul Wai, the executive director of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.
The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) is the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve tolling. Founded in 1932, IBTTA has members in 23 countries on six continents. Through advocacy, thought leadership and education, members are implementing state-of-the-art, innovative user-based transportation financing solutions to address the critical infrastructure challenges of the 21st Century.
Each year, IBTTA presents the Toll Excellence Awards to highlight the very best projects, innovations and solutions from the international tolling industry. The awards encourage the industry to share and celebrate new ideas and emerging practices in six categories: Administration and Finance; Customer Service and Marketing Outreach; Social Responsibility; Technology; Toll Operations, Engineering and Maintenance; and Private Sector Innovation.