FDOT Secretary Makes MetroPlan Orlando His First Florida MPO Visit
Posted on: July 9, 2015 in Transportation News
Wednesday marked the first time that recently appointed Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Jim Boxold has spoken in front of a metropolitan planning organization in the state of Florida. During his presentation to the MetroPlan Orlando Board, Secretary Boxold emphasized the importance of Central Florida to advancing both the economic and social well-being of what is now the third most populous state in the country.
At the beginning of his speech, Boxold discussed several major transportation projects in the region, including the I-4 Ultimate and Beyond the Ultimate, SunRail Phases 2 and 3, Wekiva Parkway, and State Road 417 widening projects. He praised Central Florida for its regional coordination and efforts to prepare the transportation system for future population growth, saying, “I think the reason that MetroPlan and Central Florida are so successful is because you understand the importance of transportation.”
The focus of the presentation then shifted to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s planned widening of State Road 417, which will include express lanes between SR 434 and Aloma Avenue. To use the express lanes, drivers would pay a fee in addition to existing tolls. Secretary Boxold cited the recent success of the South Florida I-95 and 595 express lanes as a primary reason for supporting the project, citing that this innovative traffic solution provides benefits to express lane users and non-users alike by doubling the average speed of both lanes and providing more reliable trip times overall.
Secretary Boxold took time to address board member concerns related to the SR 417 widening project. He stated that he would be open to considering a mutually beneficial change of ownership deal between the Florida Turnpike Enterprise and the Central Florida Expressway Authority that could potentially resolve board member concerns. The deal could result in the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise owning SR 528 and the Central Florida Expressway Authority owning SR 417 and SR 429.
“I think operationally it makes the most sense,” he said, before explaining that if a deal like this moves forward, it may also directly impact whether the SR 417 express lanes project moves forward as planned. Details of how such an agreement could be reached are to be worked out in the near future.
Board Chairman and Kissimmee Mayor Jim Swan praised FDOT District Five staff and expressed the board’s appreciation to Secretary Boxold for FDOT’s commitment to working closely with local governments. After thanking the board, Secretary Boxold concluded his presentation by encouraging the board to keep moving forward.
“I recognize that we’ve got a lot more work to do, and so I look forward to working cooperatively to solve those problems,” Boxold said.
View an album of photos from Secretary Boxold’s visit here.