Flordia Governor Ron DeSantis is accelerating plans for infrastructure improvements as the Orlando legislature prepares to assume control of Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.
According to reports from Fox News 35, DeSantis visited Osceola County on Monday, one of two counties encapsulating the Walt Disney World Resort, to share news of a new construction proposal included in his budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Specifically, the $7 billion “Moving Florida Forward” project would speed up the completion of 20 highway projections throughout the state of Florida, something which DeSantis’ team previously estimated could take up to 20 years.
Although DeSantis claims the new timeline of just four years to complete the roadwork is due to additional funding, such as a $4 billion revenue surplus resulting from “federal stimulus money” and “higher-than-expected tax collections,” according to Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, could the imminent seizure of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) have motivated this accelerated timeline?
Indeed, Perdue told Fox News 35 that “innovative financing” would cover the project’s remaining $3 billion cost, and state representative Taryn Fenske previously stated that “Disney will be responsible for their outstanding debts and will pay their fair share of taxes” under the proposed RCID legislation. In fact, DeSantis’ plan would pledge $1.451 billion toward the reconstruction of Interstate 4 from Champions Gate to the Osceola Parkway and add $479 million worth of auxiliary express lanes to Interstate 75, an announcement at which the attending crowds cheered.
For example, Kat White said in an interview that the improvements “for those areas near Disney” were “long overdue.” While not everyone agrees with DeSantis’ decision to obtain control over Disney World land and dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District Act, which Walt himself had put in place, his newly announced infrastructure proposals certainly seem to be gaining him local favor.
Says the Governor on his motivations for the accelerated timeline: “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.” However, DeSantis’ fiscal year for 2023-2024 begins July 1, coincidentally, just one month after his team will assume control of Disney’s RCID on June 1, 2023.
If Florida Legislature approves DeSantis’ proposed budget, and construction plans, roadwork and improvements could start as early as 2024.