Governments have been providing funding for transportation infrastructure and expansion since 1787.  In 1787, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gave Congress the power “to establish Post Offices and post Roads.” Since the original “post Roads” funding there have been vast expansions to include different modes of transportation inclusive of airports, seaports, railways, and other transit modes. Through the years Governmental leaders recognized the need to provide goods and services both efficiently and productively to citizens, the need of transportation infrastructure for growth, and the need to provide transportation modes that would allow citizens to move easily and freely across the United States.

This year’s proposed budget funding holds true to our historical government leadership. Over 22 million people call our great State of Florida home. In addition to this large population, we are a tourism state and in 2022 welcomed over 137 million visitors. With the large population, the large visitor numbers, and the growing state, the Governor focused on projects that reduced congestion and proficiently provided goods and services to Florida citizens.

This year’s proposed funding provides $630 million for the Moving Florida Forward Initiative program which addresses congestion on Florida’s highways. Also provided is $14.5 billion to the Transportation Work Program, which is Florida’s ongoing five-year plan, a strategic plan for the implementation, construction, and completion of Florida’s transportation infrastructure projects. The Transportation Work Program funding is composed of the following funding: “$5.4 billion for highway construction and maintenance to include 135 new lane miles; $1.9 billion to resurface 3,115 lane miles; $109.6 million in seaport infrastructure improvements to ensure Florida’s ports continue to have capacity while the rest of the nation struggles from supply chain backups at seaports; $334.4 million for aviation improvements; $381.7 million in scheduled repairs for 62 bridges and replacement of 15 bridges; $997.7 million investment in rail and transit projects; $210.1 million for safety initiatives; $215.3 million for community trail projects and $70.3 million for the Sun Trail Network.”

Proposed funding also allocated $25 million for the Truck Parking Improvement Program to expand the number of parking spots for cargo hauling large trucks. Parking for truckers to take breaks keeps all Floridians safe. The funding also allocated $75 million in grant support for newly implemented delivery method models of goods which include vertical takeoff and land aircraft, vertiports, airports, inland ports, seaports, freight railroads, intermodal logistic centers, and fuel pipelines.

The proposed transportation funding is inclusive of exploring anticipated growth needs, construction of new transportation modes, the maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure, and the funding of anticipated transportation models. We here in Jackson County may not have experienced air delivery of items however, it is happening in larger areas and is more likely just around the corner for us. We haven’t hit the George Jetson era yet, but technology due largely to efficiency, productivity, and expense reduction is evolving daily and we must anticipate, embrace, and implement policies for the changes. I encourage you to vote in 2024 for leaders who will not only provide for our community’s immediate needs but will also provide guidance, policies, and funding for the ever-changing world we live in. I will leave you with that thought and that concludes this week’s The Straight Truth With Mary Ann Hutton.