New proposal would extend I-4 Express lanes near Walt Disney World

Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Osceola County on Monday to announce a $7 billion proposal to speed the completion of 20 highway projects across the state. 

The governor said the Moving Florida Forward plan would have taken up to 20 years to complete, but now with additional funding for the projects, he believes they will be finished in just four years.

"We are looking to widen existing roadways, making existing connections more efficient, expand intersections to be more free flowing, and this is going to improve traffic flow," said DeSantis.

Under DeSantis’ proposal, $4 billion would come from a general-revenue surplus, which has built up as the state has seen higher-than-expected tax collections and as it received federal stimulus money. The remaining $3 billion would be raised through "innovative financing," according to Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue.

Florida has an annual transportation work plan, which this year received $12.6 billion. Examples of the work in DeSantis’ plan would include $479 million to add auxiliary lanes to Interstate 75 between Wildwood and Ocala and $340 million to improve the Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 interchange in Ormond Beach. 

Another example receiving a lot of attention is the $1.451 billion to reconstruct Interstate 4 from Champions Gate to the Osceola Parkway. The announcement brought a roaring cheer from the crowd.

"It’s long overdue, especially for those areas near Disney and when get closer to 95 as well," said Kat White.

In addition to the express lanes, the Florida Department of Transportation said the project would improve existing roads and access ramps to ease traffic woes. 

"People are continuing to fly to the ‘free' state of Florida, and many regions are seeing exponential population growth," said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue. "This challenges us to find ways to accelerate, much-needed infrastructure."

The road plan is expected to be part of a budget that DeSantis will propose for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which will start July 1. 

"I think this makes sense to do these things that we’re going to have to do anyways, and we have more than enough resources to make it happen," said DeSantis.

The Florida Legislature still needs to approve the proposal. If all goes to plan, construction could begin in 2024.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.