Critical Roads, Ports, Airports Major Focus of $6.8B Transportation Budget

Fri January 28, 2005 - Southeast Edition

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is recommending a $6.8-billion transportation budget for fiscal year (FY) 2005-06.

The budget recommendations are in keeping with the governor’s priorities of diversifying the state’s economy and building Florida’s families by enhancing economic prosperity and preserving the quality of the communities.

“Last year’s hurricane-related damage to our transportation system, especially the I-10 Escambia Bay bridge, showed how vital our highway system is to the economic health of this state and country,” said Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Jose Abreu. “The governor’s ongoing investment in transportation will keep Florida on the road to meeting the needs of the traveling public.”

The proposed work program budget of $6 billion represents a 5 percent increase from FY 2004-05, and a 96 percent, $3-billion spending increase over the last eight years. The work program includes funds to construct 211 new lane miles, reconstruct and rehabilitate 3,212 existing lane miles, replace 15 bridges and invest $2.1 billion in road building contracts.

The department’s work program for FY 2005-06 includes the following commitments:

• Development of the Strategic Intermodal System (SIS), $2.9 billion — As the state’s top transportation priority, these critical highways, airports, seaports, railroads and other key transportation assets are the catalysts for Florida’s future growth and the diversification of the state’s economy.

They have also proven critically important to Florida’s recent disaster response efforts and the economic recovery of those areas hardest hit by the 2004 hurricanes.

• Project Funding for Rural Communities, $300 million — Funding includes $30.3 million for specific rural county programs (Small County Resurfacing Assistance Program, $25 million; and the Small County Outreach Program, $5.3 million) and continued budget policy emphasis on Strategic Intermodal System facilities that provide economic benefits to the Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern.

Major projects slated to begin in the upcoming fiscal year include:

• Widening State Road 70 (Okeechobee Road) from two to four lanes between Header and McCarty Road in St. Lucie County;

• Widening the Bee Line Expressway from four to six lanes between I-4 and Sand Lake Road in Orange County;

• Widening State Road 20 from two to four lanes between County Road 315 (Interlachen) and Rowland Avenue in Putnam County; and

• More than $635 million for land purchases in anticipation of future projects.