WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - Every day, thousands of drivers travel on the Florida Turnpike during rush hour and it gets backed up in some areas.
That's why the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is doing a study. It's a 10-mile plan to relieve congestion from Apopka Vineland Road to Plant Street, but it's at the cost of homes in a long-time Winter Garden neighborhood.
"They can forget it. Because we’re not gonna go. We’ve been living here all these years. Ain’t nobody going to push us out."
Betty Clay has lived in Tildenville for 50 years. Now a proposal to widen the Turnpike could put her neighborhood at risk. The stretch of concern runs along the Florida Turnpike south of State Road 408 to State Road 50, and east of the Old Winter Garden Road overpass.
"This is a quiet neighborhood and I want to stay here."
According to FDOT’s website, the project also includes bridge construction and new access locations for interchanges.
Winter Garden City Commissioner Ron Mueller said one of them would go right through Tildenville, demolishing 130 homes.
"They’re talking December 2022. That’s a very aggressive timeline to start building and creating eminent domain. That’s going to impact the Tildenville area. And all those folks' homes would be destroyed by this interchange."
He added that residents would have a difficult time finding a new place to live with the current housing market. He tells us no one from the state contacted local leaders.
"To push them out of our community for another highway or local exchange is just inexcusable."
He also said part of the land at Tucker Ranch, where they’re expanding the park, would also be taken away. Mueller believes there’s a better way to cut down on traffic congestion.
"Spreading that traffic out over a wider area which will reduce congestion and noise pollution and allow people to move a lot quicker."
Clay plans to fight to keep her home.
"Whatever we have to do, I’m willing to do it."
According to Florida Turnpike Enterprise, this is just the beginning. The project isn't even funded yet. They want the community's input. That's FDOT is having a public meeting tonight at 6:30 at Tanner Hall off Garden Avenue.
You can read more about the Florida Turnpike Enterprise plans HERE.
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