Orange County to give Universal $125M for Kirkman Road extension

Orange County commissioners are looking to hand over $125 million to Universal Studios Orlando to extend Kirkman Road through the new Epic Universe theme park. The deal is striking a chord with some taxpayers.

“Let Universal build the road themselves,” said Sally Baptist, Orange County resident, “Why are we supporting the corporations, when they’re the ones with all the billions of dollars, makes no sense to me.”

“They have their own funds, they have they own money,” Sharona Barnes, Orange County resident.

The contribution covers almost half of the anticipated $305 million price tag of the road extension.

“Billion-dollar corporation, I think they can build their own road, I don’t think they need us to build their road for them,” said Baptist.

“Those same citizens probably want jobs,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Demings is defending the deal, saying not only is Universal’s expansion good for the economy but the Kirkman Road extension was always in the county’s plan, regardless of Epic Universe.

“The funds that are going to be used to expand this roadway really was contemplated by decision-makers decades ago, so we’re just fulfilling the plan and the action that was taken then,” said Mayor Demings.

The mayor is referring to a fund established in the tourist district years ago dedicated to future road and transportation needs.

“We all know that the International Drive business area has grown tremendously and that has brought with it additional traffic congestion in the area,” said Demings.

But undeniably, the announcement of the park has made the road extension a priority.

“Because of Universal’s Epic Universe expansion, it has really accelerated the need to do that, so Universal has agreed to contribute to the overall cost,” said Demings.

“They wouldn’t need to worry about that road right now if they weren’t doing it for Universal,” said Baptist.