Florida lawmakers have greenlighted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to speed up 20 highway construction projects across the state.
When the Legislative Session ended last week, DeSantis brought up his Moving Florida Forward program, saying the initiative will “meet the needs of a growing state.”
“I requested $4 billion for the Moving Florida Forward so we can get ahead of some of these traffic problems,” DeSantis said in a press conference after legislators passed a $117 billion budget. “Some of these items may take 20 years. I want to accelerate that to get it done much sooner, and the Legislature responded.”
DeSantis’ Moving Florida Forward also requires borrowing an additional $3 billion as the state invests in a four-year, $7 billion road construction project to address some of the most traffic congested parts of the state.
Some of those prioritized projects include reconstructing Interstate 4 from ChampionsGate to the Osceola Parkway in Central Florida; redesigning the Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 interchange in Ormond Beach; widening a portion of Interstate 75 in Southwest Florida near Fort Myers and Naples; and reconstructing the Fruitville Road interchange in Sarasota County.
“I don’t think we can wait 20 years to get this type of relief,” DeSantis said in January when he announced his plan that was intended to speed up some of the road construction projects that might otherwise take two decades to complete. “These are all projects in the pipeline. They have been approved by local communities. They are really ready to get going, we just need to put the funds in place.”
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Jared Perdue had called Moving Florida Forward the largest investment in road construction in his 20-year career with the state.
However, some lawmakers had expressed concerns it might be too ambitious for FDOT, which also received a $13.6 billion budget for its typical work program.
“I’m not sure DOT can do $4 billion worth projects in one year with all their other work programs,” said Sen. Ed Hooper, a Clearwater Republican who oversees the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, when the two chambers were in budget conference talks last month.
Ultimately, however, the $4 billion was included in the state’s spending plan.