Water-Related News

Critics say DOT road design ignored flooding science

SORRENTO — The state’s road department will not raise a section of the Wekiva Parkway project near Mount Dora even though it was submerged after Hurricane Irma and falls below widely accepted FEMA flood levels.

George Marek, a retired Florida Department of Transportation district drainage engineer and current Sorrento resident, feels his former agency is playing a game of Russian roulette that could end up causing hazardous conditions during another major storm.

The Wekiva Parkway, a 25-mile project that would complete a beltway around Orlando, includes a six-lane feeder road from U.S. Highway 441 along part of State Road 46 to a new toll road dubbed State Road 453. That road will connect to the Wekiva Parkway, also known as State Road 429.

Marek’s concern is with a 3/4-mile stretch nearest to U.S. 441, which at FEMA 100-year flood levels, would fall under several feet of water. The FEMA flood maps are used by governments and private companies when designing roads, developments and insurance tables.

“It will range between 2 to 3 feet below water, generally. In the whole stretch there, about the deepest anywhere the water is on the pavement is about 4 feet on the ramp,” Marek said referring to the ramp from the U.S. 441 flyover that will connect to SR 46.