‘Best interest of Central Florida:’ Rep. Demings touts infrastructure bill’s impact

$1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill signed by President Biden.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Money for roads, trains, internet, water and public transit.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, spent Tuesday touting the impacts the newly-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will mean for Central Florida, with stops in Apopka and Orlando.

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“We got it passed in the House and the president signed it into law,” Demings said at the Lynx Central Station Tuesday. “This bill is in the best interest of Central Florida and all of people who visit our great region.”

According to a press release from the congresswoman’s office, Florida will get funds over the next 5 years to improve roads, highways, public transportation, bridges, internet, water and waste water, and more.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Investments in U.S. supply chain infrastructure, including $17 billion for U.S. ports and $25 billion for airports
  • $26 million to Florida to protect against natural disasters
  • $29 million to protect against cyber attacks
  • $2.6 billion for public transportation
  • $1.2 billion for infrastructure development for airports
  • $13.1 billion for federal-aid highways programs
  • $245 million for bridge replacements and repairs
  • $1.6 billion to improve water infrastructure
  • $100 million for broadband coverage
  • $198 million to support the expansion of electric vehicle charging network
  • $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to electric vehicle charging

However, at the news conference was a bus rider, Blaine Volstorf. Volstorf works at an area theme park and relies on public transportation every day. He said it takes him at least 5 hours round trip to get to work and home every day.

Volstorf says at night there aren’t enough buses to take him home, so he has to walk that last hour.

“Even though they are doing all of this for public transportation, what is it actually going to do for us people that ride the bus?” he asked. “Yeah, carbon emissions and all of that politics is great, but I want to get home at a reliable time.”

Jim Harrison, CEO of Lynx, said expanding the Lynx bus fleet is part of the plans for the money from the federal government.

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill promises to be transformative for public transit across the nation and right here in Central Florida,” Harrison said. “This investment will help our facilities, like shelters, transfer centers and operations to provide better day to day experience for our customers. It will help grow and expand our fleet to help better serve central Florida and it will help our transition to zero-emission busses to help protect our environment.”

Meanwhile, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Rep. Demings’ husband, wants to revive his plan for a one-cent sales tax for transportation, a voter referendum he shelved during the pandemic.

Demings said the tax would be used to create a dedicated funding source for public transit, beyond the infrastructure bill.

“If we want to look at how we are going to increase the fleet, the frequency the connectivity of our public transit system,” Demings said. “Then we have to really look at a major metamorphosis of our transit system here.”

About the Author:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.