Florida will unleash its largest ever nonfederal-stimulus transportation budget later this week, Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said Monday.
Prasad, during the opening of the Florida Chamber Foundations Transportation Summit at the Honey Lake Plantation in Greenville, said his agency will outline its final budget plan for 2013 that comes to an $8.5 billion budget package.
The plan will be up $200 million from the proposal for transportation that Gov. Rick Scott included in his $7.42 billion fiscal plan.
With the exception of the economic stimulus year, this budget is at record levels in the states history, Prasad said.
The reason for the increased focus on transportation is to create short-term construction jobs and lay the foundation to attract businesses to Florida, Prasad said.
We are truly going to be a trade gateway to the Americas, Prasad said.
Bentina Terry of the Florida Chamber Foundation said that Florida has a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to become a global transit hub, sitting as it does at the apex of Southern growth from Virginia to Texas, along with the growing north-south sea trade.
Scotts proposal for transportation included $3.6 billion for highway construction, $144 million for county transportation projects, $288 million for seaports, $169 million for aviation, and $20 million for Space Florida.
By expanding capacity and relieving congestion, moving people and freight more efficiently, we can create a state that keeps down the cost of living for our citizens and makes Florida the best to live, work and visit, Prasad said.
We need to continue to make the case that infrastructure and investment in transportation is more than road builders and engineers ... it is what drives the economy. All the stuff we consume in the state of Florida comes through transportation. None of that gets parachuted down to the Wal-Marts or Costco.
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