FORT MYERS — Get ready to see more orange construction barrels on Southwest Florida’s roads.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that Southwest Florida would receive $140 million as part of his proposed fiscal 2013-14 transportation budget.
The Naples Republican made the announcement Friday afternoon while surrounded by road construction workers at the SWIFT Sunguide Center — the regional management hub for Interstate 75 — in Fort Myers. The appearance was a chance for Scott to talk about his proposed $9.1 billion statewide transportation budget.
“We have to reinvest in infrastructure, transportation projects ... are extremely important to creating jobs in our state,” Scott said. “This is our second-biggest transportation budget in the history of the state and it’s because we have a better economy. Tourism is up, exports are up, we have more jobs. So the right things are happening.”
The largest chunk of money would go toward continued improvements to Interstate 75. The estimated $80 million would “expand a 1.6-mile stretch of highway and bridges adding six travel lanes.”
The project, Scott said in a statement, would “increase safety for those who travel our roads.”
Billy Hattaway, the District 1 secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, said most of I-75 is six travel lanes wide in Southwest Florida, but this money will allow the state to continue its efforts to widen the interstate where it isn’t six lanes, excluding Alligator Alley.
“I know almost none of you could have gotten here today without driving through one of our six construction projects that we have ongoing right now,” Hattaway said as he described current and future widening projects. “You can see we’ll have most of the rest of I-75 torn up in the near future, but shortly thereafter you’ll have six lanes of highway to improve the mobility of the citizens and visitors.”
The interstate may get the biggest cut of Southwest Florida’s share, but Scott said two Collier County projects also would get some cash in his proposal.
Scott’s proposed budget includes $58 million to add lanes and reconstruct U.S. 41 east of Naples from Collier Boulevard to Greenway Road, and $2 million to widen and resurface existing lanes on Davis Boulevard from County Barn Road to Santa Barbara Boulevard.
“Our commitment to the safety of Florida families cannot be overstated,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the progress.”
The governor said the projects proposed in his budget would be paid for with the gas tax and would benefit all Florida residents and visitors.
“If you think about it, you want to get to where you want to go, you want to do it as quickly as possible and you want to do it safely,” he said. “It’s also going to help our businesses, because they’ll be able to get their goods to market.”
State lawmakers will use the governor’s recommendations as a framework for the budget they adopt this spring.
FORT MYERS – Gov. Rick Scott visited Fort Myers on Friday to highlight Florida Department of Transportation projects along Interstate 75 as part of the Florida Families First Budget.
“The I-75 corridor is the backbone of transportation along the west coast of Florida. It is essential to statewide mobility and our economic competitiveness," Scott said. "In order to preserve this vital segment of I-75, our Florida Families First Budget calls for an $80 million investment to expand a 1.6-mile stretch of highway and bridges, adding six travel lanes. This project will not only save taxpayer money through a private-public partnership, but it will also create jobs for Florida families and increase safety for those who travel on our roads.”
The governor’s budget also proposes a $58 million project to add lanes and reconstruct U.S. 41 East from Collier Boulevard east to Greenway Road in Collier County to ease traffic congestion and a $2 million project to widen and resurface existing lanes on Davis Boulevard to allow space for landscaping, bike lanes, lighting and sidewalks.
The Florida Families First budget recommended $9.1 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation in the 2013-2014 year – an 11 percent increase over the prior year. The recommendations will supply the retention and creation of an estimated 505,000 jobs, one third of which will be directly related to highway construction employment, according to a news release from the governor's office.
Scott visited the SWIFT Sunguide Center Friday at the I-75/SR 78 Interchange with FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad and FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway, and elected officials.