Tallahassee, Fla. – Voices from across the state, including a former emergency management advisor, state leaders, business and trade associations, and everyday Floridians, are coming together in support of Governor Ron DeSantis signing the “Innovation in Infrastructure” bill, Senate Bill 7068, into law by May 28, 2019.
This legislation would create three regional corridors to accommodate multiple modes of transportation and various infrastructure improvements, including broadband and sewer access. Further, the new infrastructure would address future population growth, economic development in rural areas, and provide additional hurricane evacuation routes.
The three identified corridors that this legislation focuses on are:
- Southwest-Central Florida Connector (Collier County to Polk County);
- Suncoast Connector (Citrus County to Jefferson County); and
- Northern Turnpike Connector (northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway.
Voices supporting Governor DeSantis signing SB 7068 into law include:
Doug Wheeler, Florida Ports Council President and CEO, said: “Long-term planning and investment in our infrastructure as described in SB 7068 will enhance the flow of trade and tourism in our state. Planning and research requirements outlined in the bill should resolve any reasonable economic and environmental impact concerns, hurricane evacuation needs, and land use impacts. Further, Governor DeSantis has installed professional and expert leadership in the Department of Transportation that will ensure all possible environmental and construction mitigation is in place to protect Florida’s natural resources and citizens. We thank the Florida Senate and Florida House for passing this important bill, and urge Governor DeSantis to sign SB 7068 into law.”
Craig Fugate, former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and former Florida Emergency Management director, said: “With the Innovation in Infrastructure Plan, which is waiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature to become law, our lawmakers have taken steps to make sure Florida families have several transportation options to travel to another part of the state or leave the state, should they need to. And, looking at past hurricane seasons, especially last year during Hurricane Michael when some Floridians experienced great congestion trying to get to safety, we know the need is inevitable. The Innovation in Infrastructure Plan allows for the responsible planning and connectivity we need and deserve. No one wants Florida to turn into a state that builds haphazard roadways, destroying our unique, natural lands. With the planning and connectivity this legislation provides, our residents will be able to safely and efficiently travel the roads, and evacuate when needed, while preserving our green land.”
Speaker Will Weatherford, who served in the Florida House from 2006 to 2014, said: “The ‘Innovation in Infrastructure’ Plan, or Senate Bill 7068, that is now being considered by Governor Ron DeSantis, is critical in maintaining our edge as a business-friendly state. As a state that prides itself on being top in the nation to conduct business, we must ensure Florida’s infrastructure is constantly moving forward for the benefit of our state. By making key investments in Florida’s infrastructure and planning now for the economic future of the Sunshine State, we are being smart stewards of our state and all Floridians, both of which will benefit from the Governor signing this legislation into law.”
Senator Garrett Richter, who served in the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2008, said: “As a longtime resident of Collier County and a frequent traveler to the northern part of our state, I know first-hand the challenges our highway system poses for those of us in Southwest Florida. Also, as a former state senator who sat through many committee meetings and debates over the years on expansion projects and how to plan for large-scale evacuations and congestion mitigation, I know how hard it is to pass legislation that represents growth in our state and seeks to balance the interests of the environmental community. I also know the opposition groups that will come out to oppose this effort and encourage our environmental champion, Governor Ron DeSantis, to veto this proposal. But, I would caution those groups that there needs to be a balance between the infrastructure needs of the third largest state and protecting our natural resources. Done correctly, we can have both.”
Kaylee Tuck, real estate and land use attorney practicing in Lee County and a resident of Highlands County, said: “As this legislation is now in Governor DeSantis’ hands for his consideration, I ask him to keep in mind the much-needed and long-overdue revitalization this would bring to our rural communities. Our rural communities have some of the lowest populations in the state, having fallen behind during the last decade of economic growth. This plan would bring jobs and economic development to these areas and provide a new interconnectivity that would open up welcomed opportunities for prosperity. Even more, if signed into law, this legislation would have positive impacts that would be felt well outside of our rural communities. By connecting our rural communities to metro hubs, the economic benefits of this legislation would be realized far and wide – all to the benefit of Floridians and the Sunshine State.”
Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, said: “With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, the legislature took major strides to prepare for Florida’s future growth with SB 7068. This bold plan, mirrored after the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition Report, will improve Florida’s infrastructure and help prepare us to welcome our new neighbors, and secure our state’s strong and growing economy.”
Tom Feeney, Associated Industries of Florida President and CEO, said: “Infrastructure and transportation projects produce jobs and economic activity and have significant effects on our state’s ability to keep pace with our population demands. We applaud the Florida Senate and House for ensuring our state’s infrastructure can keep up with future demand by passing legislation that would connect Florida’s cities via three new corridors. We encourage Governor DeSantis to sign this smart infrastructure policy into law – it is a smart investment in keeping commerce flowing and businesses thriving in the Sunshine State.”
Kenneth Armstrong, Ph.D., Florida Trucking Association President and CEO, said: “Florida Trucking Association applauds the efforts of the Florida Legislature in thinking a decade ahead about Florida’s infrastructure. FTA agrees with Senator Galvano that, while toll roads are at the core of the three new corridors, the benefits are really economic development and assuring Florida’s position as a destination state for residency, tourism, and business. The hurricane evacuation advantages are self-evident. We strongly support Senate Bill 7068 and hope Governor DeSantis will approve the plan to study and build three new corridors.”
SB 7068, by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, was signed by the officers and presented to the governor on May 13, 2019. Governor DeSantis has until May 28, 2019, to act on the bill. For full details on the bill, please visit https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/07068.
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