Eleven major roadwork projects will soon begin across Florida.
Tolls may be in our future
MARCO ISLAND – Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad today unveiled the Florida Transportation Vision for the 21st Century. It will involve making nearly a dozen major road-building plans reality across the entire state.
Speaking to the Florida Transportation Builders’ Assn. annual convention on Marco Island in Collier County, Prasad outlined goals to spur private sector job creation and to get our economy growing by having the best transportation and infrastructure system in the nation.
Prasad said, “The Transportation Vision plan uses creative financing alternatives, offers transportation choices, places strong emphasis on port development, reduces bureaucracy and streamlines decision making, plans and develops future corridors, and provides faster project delivery to keep Florida moving and get our citizens back to work.”
“The Transportation Vision plan is the state’s bold, innovative roadmap for the future which will provide the most advanced and effective transportation system in the country,” said Prasad. “Florida is on the cutting edge to produce more transportation projects, to provide Florida’s taxpayers with a greater return on our investment, and to create the conditions for the private sector to invest, grow and provide good paying jobs.”
He said Gov. Rick Scott, R, has committed to making the needed investments in transportation infrastructure which is a tried and true model to create both direct and indirect private sector jobs and investment.
Prasad added, “At a time when too many people are looking for work and input prices such as commodity costs and labor are low, we must make these investments now.”
He noted, “Additionally, while there is significant capacity in the private sector to deliver more while doing so at historically low prices, the department will be using innovative financing tools to advance nearly a billion dollars of construction projects into the current fiscal year.”
Projects that will be advanced include
US 27 in Polk County
I-75 in Lee County
SR 9B in Duval County
Quincy By-Pass in Gadsden County
SR 79 Public-Private Partnership in Holmes and Washington counties
I-95 in Indian River County
I-95 in Brevard County
SR 823/NW 57 Avenue in Miami-Dade County
SR 50 in Hernando County
Pinellas Bayway in Pinellas County
Veterans Expressway in Hillsborough County.
Prasad explained “Adequately funding our critical projects is vital to our success. While FDOT’s current budget is about $7.9 billion, we must identify creative financing alternatives to get more projects through the production pipeline. The gas tax as a funding source for transportation is not sustainable, therefore we must diversify our sources of revenues in order to invest in the state-of-the-art infrastructure for Florida to compete nationally and globally. To that end, Florida will be implementing a policy that all new capacity on interstates and expressways and widening and replacement of all major river crossings should be tolled where feasible or at the very least tolls should complement traditional funding in delivering the improvements and new capacity.”
He continued, “With more funding, we must develop an efficient transportation system that provides choices to the user and customer. Therefore, in order to provide a world class experience for commuters, the department will be developing a system of managed lanes in Florida.,” and he explained that “Building upon the success of the I-95 managed lanes in Miami-Dade County and the planned expansion into Broward County along with the on-going construction of I-595 managed lanes, the department will be going forward with a Public Private Partnership in expanding the system along I-75 in Broward County in spring of 2012.”
The plan extends beyond roadways. Another PPP partner is with Tri-Rail.
“Florida has historically lagged other similarly situated states when it comes to transit opportunities and alternatives. While mass transit systems inherently have challenges, there appear to be great opportunities on the horizon.”
He got specific and said Florida DOT “will embark on a PPP along the Tri-Rail corridor where we can expand service, lower the cost to the taxpayer, all while providing quality services to the customer.”
Freight movement and ports are also on his list. He pointed out Scott has placed special emphasis on port development to create jobs and to get the economy moving.
“The Panama Canal expansion provides Florida and Florida ports with a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a game changer when it comes to trade regionally, nationally, and globally. Funding of the Port of Miami dredging is the first step in changing this dynamic and it is getting noticed – but for the State of Florida to begin to plan strategically and become the shining example for business development and for greater efficiencies in the movement of cargo and freight to the end-user, the Department has created an Office of Freight Planning and Logistics.”
He said that office will include the Seaports Office, the Rail Office and will also focus on cargo movement by air and truck.
“The creation of this office will play a key role in advancing Governor Scott’s initiatives to transform Florida’s economy by becoming a global hub for trade, logistics, and export-oriented manufacturing activities.”
The Department will be rolling out more details about the Florida Transportation Vision for the 21st Century in the weeks and months to come.
Useful website: www.dot.state.fl.us