ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida has taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and fast-tracked dozens of major transportation projects across the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Friday.
"You have a difficult situation, but you have to look and say, OK, what are the opportunities to make progress?" DeSantis said during a roundtable discussion at the Hilton Orlando-Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando.
The governor said that by the end of March, Florida had seen a big decline in traffic on our roads, and he viewed that as an opportunity.
"We need to take advantage of that. We need to accelerate these projects," DeSantis said. "I felt it was something that we needed to keep going here. I wanted people to be gainfully employed. I wanted the progress to continue to be made."
GOVERNOR TALKS TRANSPORTATION:
According to the governor, the state has accelerated more than 50 major transportation projects across Florida, which has saved the state 650 calendar days of construction.
"You're keeping people working, but you're also making progress. That's gonna reduce commute times for people. That will happen sooner, and that increases their productivity," DeSantis said.
Among the projects impacted is the widening of a seven-mile stretch of Southern Boulevard in Palm Beach County, which has been accelerated by three months.
Crews are widening Southern Boulevard from Forest Hill Boulevard to Lion Country Safari from four to six lanes, adding a 12-foot shared-use pathway on the north side of the road, adding bike lanes, resurfacing, making drainage improvements, and adding lighting and signalization, among other things.
The $33 million project was expected to be completed in the summer of 2021, but that has now been accelerated by a few months, DeSantis said.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 518,075 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 7,927 deaths.