Today the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) highlights accomplishments from 2022, all of which have advanced transportation throughout the state by working closely with communities and partners and incorporating innovative technology and design.
“Having been at FDOT for my entire career, I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve my fellow Floridians by leading this agency,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “Florida has a diverse transportation system, so it’s important that we continue to balance the needs of our communities with safety and environmental considerations, while also providing an advanced and resilient transportation infrastructure. From safe mobility options for Floridians and visitors, to facilitating an effective supply chain, a reliable and robust transportation system truly impacts all of us on a daily basis.”
The signing of Governor DeSantis’ Freedom First Budget in June made record investments in Florida’s transportation infrastructure. The historic $12.6 billion in funding for statewide transportation projects for FDOT’s current five-year work plan reaffirmed Florida as an innovative leader in transportation. Strategic investments were emphasized, including $4.4 billion for highway construction to include 180 new lane miles, $1.2 billion in resurfacing to include 2,690 lane miles, $236.6 million for bridge maintenance repairs and replacements, $135.9 million in seaport infrastructure enhancements, $314.5 million for aviation improvements, $867 million for rail and transit program advancements, and $160.1 million for safety initiatives.
FDOT solidified its commitment to Florida communities with its immediate response and recovery efforts to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida in September. Prior to the storm’s landfall, this included facilitating efficient evacuation routes by suspending tolls and pre-staging equipment and teams. After landfall, FDOT teams worked hand in hand with industry and agency partners to immediately address the damage. This included Cut and Toss operations to provide first responders with safe access to impacted areas, utility restoration efforts, supply deliveries, as well as emergency repairs to roadways and bridges needed to quickly restore access to communities.
Pine Island and Sanibel Island sustained substantial damage to their bridges and roads, preventing drivable access to and from these barrier islands, and FDOT stepped in to assist with the recovery and access efforts. With hundreds of loads of sand and rock as well as heavy equipment, FDOT crews worked alongside partners day and night to literally pave the way to reconnect the Pine Island to the mainland. These efforts quickly restored access to the stranded communities, with temporary bridge repairs being completed in less than three days.
FDOT also provided vital supplies to families on Pine Island as they recovered. Two large FDOT trucks packed with supplies were among the first vehicles across the restored bridge, and Department teams provided and distributed over 250 coolers, 16,000 pounds of ice, and almost 22,000 bottles of water to this hard-hit community.
Emergency repairs to the Sanibel Causeway were also prioritized in response to Hurricane Ian, as the locally owned roadway and the very land that the road was built on were washed away by the storm. FDOT, alongside industry and local partners, were able to expedite repairs to allow a convoy of utility restoration teams and equipment to provide assistance to residents on the island. Temporary repairs of the causeway were completed in just 15 days, and it was reopened to the public more than a week ahead of schedule.
FDOT crews were once again poised for recovery efforts, and worked closely with local agency partners, law enforcement, and the community to respond and help rebuild from the second major storm of the season, Hurricane Nicole. The storm significantly damaged the scenic highway State Road A1A, washing out sand dunes, and undermining the roadway throughout three counties. FDOT crews were proactively staged and immediately able to begin work to restore, fill, and stabilize this vital roadway and completed repairs in a phenomenal three-day timeframe.
Looking to the future, with some regions of the state currently growing by more than 20-30 percent annually, FDOT continually seeks opportunities with community and industry partners to enhance the transportation network, incorporate innovative technologies and design, recruit and retain a dynamic workforce, and facilitate a resilient infrastructure. As Florida’s unique geography and climate continue to create conditions that demand a more resilient infrastructure, FDOT continues to incorporate the needs for resiliency in all research, design, and project planning efforts. Additionally, the Department continues to focus on communities and partners to understand their unique needs and priorities, define a dynamic future for transportation, and maintain safety as a priority. As the third most populous state in the nation with more than 22 million current residents, Florida’s population continues to rapidly increase and welcomes 100 million visitors annually. Providing a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic growth, and preserves the quality of our environment and communities is essential.
Major Project Updates
To assist Floridians with continued increases in the cost of living, the SunPass Savings Program was launched in September under the leadership of Governor DeSantis. The toll discount program served customers who use Florida’s Turnpike System and toll facilities owned by FDOT. This incentive program provided financial relief to SunPass commuters by providing credits to customers who met the threshold of qualifying transponder transactions per month. As Governor DeSantis promised to continue seeking out ways to provide cost of living relief for Florida’s families, he signed the Toll Relief Program bill in December to further benefit Floridians who frequently commute on these roadways. The program will be active throughout 2023 and is slated to benefit approximately 1.2 million Floridians with average savings of nearly $400 per commuter in the calendar year.
Throughout the year, numerous projects to improve safety and enhance mobility were completed statewide across all Florida regions, reaffirming FDOT’s focus on customers and communities. Innovative designs were introduced, such as diverging diamond interchanges, a unique design wherein the two directions of traffic briefly drive on the opposite sides of the road which results in increased safety, enhanced efficacy of moving higher volume of traffic, and reduced congestion. Other projects included introduction of ramp signals on key interchanges, establishing new managed lanes, implementation of new connector ramps, and completion of many resurfacing projects. FDOT teams continued to test new materials, high-tech resources, and design elements throughout the year, and introduced many of these in current projects.
The I-4 Ultimate Project, Florida’s largest transportation project to date, reached substantial completion in 2022 by introducing 53 new bridges, replacing 74 bridges, and widening 13 bridges on a 21-mile stretch of Interstate-4, with 15 major interchanges undergoing complete reconstruction and four express lanes opened to provide a new choice to drivers. Also in Central Florida, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise opened the Suncoast Parkway Extension connecting Citrus County with the Tampa Bay area, completed with 15 bridges, five wildlife corridors, a new pedestrian bridge, and expansion of the popular Suncoast Trail. A more-than 2.5-mile section of a four-lane divided arterial road on State Road 60 originally constructed in 1960 resulted in FDOT’s twelfth Perpetual Pavement Award: By Performance from the Asphalt Pavement Alliance.
With FDOT’s sights set beyond roads, the Department joined forces with Space Florida and NASA to support growth for space travel. Work began on the new NASA Causeway Bridge in Brevard County to offer continuous maritime traffic under the bridge while also benefiting commuters, businesses, and visitors. Additionally, the project allows for higher payloads to be transported to the area for the benefit of space industry growth. The project is particularly special, as the FDOT Spaceport Office attracts and supports the long-term commercial aerospace industry through the Spaceport Improvement Program and collaborates with Space Florida to make Florida the “Place for Space.” With several key launches in 2022, including the Artemis 1 taking flight in November, this project will allow more Floridians and visitors to view launches.
While seaports in other states had cargo ships idling in the water, contributing to a severe supply chain crisis, Florida’s ports welcomed ships to ensure a thriving economy and helped keep supplies in the hands of consumers. In response to severe national supply chain concerns in March of 2022, Governor DeSantis announced the first U.S. East Coast container service, with Florida’s JAXPORT connecting to four locations in Asia. Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has invested nearly $1 billion in seaports to ensure maximum capacity and continued growth in cargo. Over the year, Port Miami recorded the busiest cargo year in its history; Port Tampa container tonnage increased, with huge growth in building material specifically; and Port Manatee saw increases in short tons and expanded their cargo yards. FDOT’s Seaport Office works with Florida’s deep-water seaports to assist in planning and funding strategic seaport projects, assists with seaport-related issues, is responsible for statewide seaport system planning, collaborates on statewide freight planning and project management, and coordinates seaport infrastructure projects with Florida’s 14 operating deep-water seaports.
From agriculture to appliances to a favorite afternoon snack, moving freight and the resilience of the supply chain have an immeasurable impact on our lives and Florida’s economy. Florida accounts for more than 33% of total U.S. trade with Latin America and the Caribbean and boasts $55.5 billion in state-origin exports. FDOT’s Freight and Rail Office enhances Florida’s economy and communities by assisting with the development of Florida’s passenger and freight rail system and supporting Florida’s multimodal freight programs. With a valuable network of partners,
With record-breaking travel periods to and from the Sunshine State throughout 2022, Florida is fortunate to have one of the most extensive and advanced airport systems in the country. The FDOT Aviation Office regulates 675 public and private airports throughout the state and has continued to invest in airport projects as well as advanced air mobility options. With FDOT’s investment of more than $157 million, December’s official opening of Terminal C at Orlando International Airport – the busiest airport in the state and seventh busiest in the world – showcases the integrated rail-air-ground transportation hub and highlights improvements being made in Florida’s communities and transportation infrastructure.
In partnership with public transportation providers statewide, the FDOT Public Transit Office strives to provide reliable, safe, and cost-effective access to those who live, work, learn, and play in Florida. A significant transit project was completed in 2022 with the opening of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s SunRunner, providing the area’s first Bus Rapid Transit. The SunRunner connects downtown St. Petersburg with the beaches and offers a viable and reliable option for residents and visitors. Also related to outdoor recreational opportunities, new multi-use trails continue to be planned and developed to provide residents and visitors with a different way to explore the beauty of Florida.
FDOT worked to promote safety on Florida’s roadways by introducing strategic campaigns focused on zero fatalities from vehicle accidents. No number of fatalities on Florida’s roadways is acceptable, and FDOT continues initiatives to call attention to and correct contributing behaviors. With 97% of roadway crashes having human error listed as a contributing factor, FDOT’s efforts are focused on awareness and acknowledgement that efforts at both the state and community levels are required to move the needle to zero. With pedestrians and cyclists also being an important component and consideration of a safe and reliable transportation system. FDOT continues to prioritize safe and viable options as part of the state’s transportation infrastructure and projects for our most vulnerable road users.
As a national leader in transportation innovation and technology, FDOT is committed to working together with communities and partners to plan for new and emerging technologies. From automation to electric vehicles, the Department is poised for the future of transportation. Reaffirming this sentiment and a focus on safety, FDOT unveiled a groundbreaking statewide lane closure notification system in August to enhance safety for drivers and roadway workers. The pilot Lane Closure Notification System (LCNS) will improve worker safety by alerting drivers about active work zones or lane closures, as well as aid motorists in navigating work zones safely, timely, and efficiently. With safety paramount to the mission of FDOT, the LCNS in Florida is the first of its kind in North America.
FDOT continues to provide the Florida 511 Travel Information System to enhance the safety and mobility of people and goods, economic competitiveness, and the quality of our environment and communities by serving commuters, visitors, commercial vehicle operators, and evacuees. FL511 is bilingual, offering information in both English and Spanish by phone, text, and e-mail, as well as on the FL511.com website for up-to-date travel information.
The Year Ahead
Several key projects are nearing completion in 2023 that further strengthen Florida’s transportation network, including the Interstate-4 and State Road 557 project in Southwest Florida, which will significantly improve safety and the environment by reconnecting the wildlife corridors in the Hilochee Wildlife Management Areas for the first time in 50 years, and completion of the widening of State Road 388 in Northwest Florida for improved, safer access to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. In South Florida, progress also continues to be made on the phased Interstate-95 Express project to introduce managed express lanes, and the Interstate-395/State Road 836/Interstate-95 project, which includes a double-deck viaduct, signature bridge downtown, and a unique underdeck with 33 acres of community spaces. Progression of the First Coast Expressway project in Northeast Florida also continues, with construction of the new St. Johns River Bridge being the next major segment of the project.
As FDOT looks ahead to 2023 with clear recognition that communities throughout the state are unique and therefore have varied and distinct needs and priorities, the Department remains committed to helping achieve local visions for transportation while also providing a statewide system that fits the transportation needs of Florida’s 22.2 million residents and more than 100 million annual visitors. FDOT also remains attuned to cutting edge ideas for enhancing mobility throughout the state to accommodate its consistent and rapid growth. FDOT is proud to recruit and retain some of the best and brightest professionals who consistently inspire innovation, improve safety for all transportation modes, support a dynamic transportation infrastructure, as well as respond during the height of emergencies. With sincere gratitude for the thousands of FDOT staff members and industry and agency partners who make this commitment to Florida possible, the Department continues to invest in workforce development and training to ensure Florida remains a national leader in transportation.
FDOT’s mission is to provide a safe and efficient transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity, and preserves the quality of the state’s environment and communities. Together with our communities and partners, FDOT strives to ensure Floridians are proud that the Sunshine State is the best place to live, learn, work, and play, and that residents and visitors alike are offered the best transportation system and a variety of travel options. For more information, visit www.FDOT.gov.