POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Interstate projects across Florida, including here in Central Florida, are getting an extra boost in funding to speed up the process and push completion up by at least 10 years, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The governor held a news conference Monday at a SUNTRAX Test Facility Toll Operations in Auburndale, announcing $7 billion proposal in funding toward 20 major interstate and roadway projects over the next four years.
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The legislative proposal, dubbed Moving Florida Forward, is prioritizing projects already in the Florida Department of Transportation’s Five-Year Work Program. Interstate 4 projects focusing on additional lanes are included among the 20 projects at the following locations:
- I-4 from ChampionsGate to Osceola Parkway ($1.451 million)
- I-4 at State Road 33 interchange ($197 million)
- I-4 from US-27 to ChampionsGate ($635 million)
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DeSantis said majority of the projects are in the center part of Florida that sees “a lot of significant congestion issues.”
“It’s been so intense lately, that you have places in Central Florida and others that really are struggling with congestion, and there’s a lot of different things on the horizon. You see some of those projects which need to be done,” the governor said.
DeSantis said the problem with the projects already approved is that it could take 20 years to complete.
“They’re really ready to get going. We just need to put the funds in place and so we’re looking to do things like widen existing roadways, making existing highway connecting existing connections more efficient, expanding interchanges, to be more free flowing, and this is going to be important to help improve traffic flow,” he said.
[View previous coverage of ChampionsGate I-4 intersection opening]
FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue said the population growth challenges the transportation department to “find ways to accelerate much-needed infrastructure.”
“It’s one thing to have rush-hour traffic, but you could end up just standstill at any time of the day, a weekend, all this stuff,” the governor said. “... So we want to make sure that it is productivity is on the line when you can improve this for businesses. But even more importantly, I think people want to be get back from work and be with their families and we want to have more time for people to be able to be there with their family.”
When Tawny Olore, the former transportation director for Osceola County, came to work for the county six years ago, traffic was already beginning to become a burden, she told News 6.
“At that point, there was traffic over on I-4, but it’s not like it is today. Any time of the day or night, you’re gonna get congestion up from US-27 to Osceola Parkway. For the governor to recognize that and to put so much emphasis on and additional dollars towards that is going to help,” Olore said about the new initiative.
Olore said the initiative would be “transformational” for Osceola County.
“We are one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of Florida,” Olore added. “CFX has been advancing projects, but this is the last piece of the puzzle that wasn’t being advanced, and as part of this money, there is dollars to get that Beltway all the way up to I-4.”
“We look forward to working with Governor DeSantis in a bipartisan fashion to use this historic funding to expand I-4, SunRail / Brightline, Poinciana Parkway, 417 and many other major transportation projects in Central Florida,” Florida Rep. Darren Soto said in a statement.
The plan would be part of a budget proposed for the 2023-24 fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Click here to learn more about the 20 projects under the Moving Florida Forward proposal.
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