Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez has called on the state legislature to allocate billions of dollars from state reserves to accelerate the progress of 20 planned highway construction projects across the state. Speaking in Sanford, Nuñez emphasized the urgency of addressing traffic congestion and improving transportation infrastructure in the face of Florida’s rapid population growth.
Named the “Moving Florida Forward” initiative, the $7-billion infrastructure program was initially introduced by Governor Ron DeSantis in January as part of his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The initiative aims to address traffic congestion, enhance safety, and alleviate transportation issues.
Under the proposal, $4 billion would be drawn from the state’s general revenue reserves to fund the projects. With this funding, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) would be empowered to leverage innovative financing tools, resulting in an additional $3 billion over a four-year period. The goal is to expedite the completion of the projects, which have been selected to provide the greatest relief to congested areas and enhance safety on Florida’s roadways.
Several projects in Central Florida are included in the initiative:
Reconstruction of Interstate 4 to add lanes between Champions Gate and Osceola Parkway in Osceola County
(estimated cost: nearly $1.5 billion).
Reconstruction of Interstate 4 to add lanes between U.S. Highway 27 and Champions Gate in Osceola County
(estimated cost: $635 million).
Construction of the Poinciana Parkway Extension Connection between County Road 532 and State 429
(estimated cost: about $1.3 billion).
Improvements to the I-4 interchange at State Road 33 near Lakeland and adding lanes on S.R. 33 between Old Combee and Tomkow roads in Polk County
(estimated cost: $197 million).
Improvements to the Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 1 interchange in Volusia County
(estimated cost: $340 million).
Nuñez stressed that delaying these projects could result in postponements of up to 20 years. She highlighted the importance of providing relief to communities burdened by traffic congestion and enhancing the safety of road users.
State Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue emphasized that these projects have been in planning stages for years and that the additional funding will expedite their completion within four years. Nuñez also reassured that allocating funds from the state’s general-revenue surplus for the initiative would not detract from other essential expenditures, given the state’s favorable financial conditions.
Original Article By Martin E. Comas – Orlando Sentinel