The Central Florida Expressway Authority will soon get even bigger by taking over big toll road projects south of the Orange County border.

Last week, the authority (CFX) board agreed to assume the lead on development of Osceola County’s toll roads. This means that during the next 18 months, the authority will begin studying unbuilt projects on the Osceola County Expressway Authority’s master plan to determine which, if any, of those future projects can be built under the Central Florida authority’s policies.

This signals the Central Florida authority is starting to absorb the other authority, a merger expected to completed by 2018.

“This will bring Osceola into the CFX fold. The agreement is the start of laying the groundwork for that to happen,” said Central Florida authority board member and Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. “It’s a win-win for both organizations, both the county as public sector and CFX as leader for interstates and toll.”

Prior to the agreement, the Central Florida Expressway Authority only had roads in Orange County. The agreement lays the groundwork for CFX roads in Osceola County, as well.

Osceola County has a long list of infrastructure needs but lacks the funding to get them done. That’s where the Central Florida authority can step in, as 75 percent of the county’s workforce leaves Osceola for the other counties in the region it already oversees, Hawkins said.

“The major benefactor is going to be the citizens of Osceola County,” said Hawkins. “Their transportation options are limited with the current road network and infrastructure; this will help with that.”

Osceola County and its 6-year-old expressway authority will still have a voice on the projects. The agreement would simply unite the two entities in order to best serve the region, said Central Florida authority spokeswoman Michelle Maikisch.

“Right now, there are two boards making the decisions for their regions; in the future there would just be one board making a decision,” Maikisch said. That would help reduce the red tape that currently exists when it comes to infrastructure improvements in the area. “The way we’ve got it structured now, we all would work together toward the same end goal: executing transportation projects.”