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First Coast

State Budget Will Fund A Variety Of NE FL Projects, Including I-10 Widening

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Will Dickey
/
The Florida Times-Union
Traffic builds on I-10 west of Downtown Jacksonville.

From rising traffic on Interstate 10 in Jacksonville to falling lake levels in Clay County, the state budget heading to the finish line would put money into tackling problems across Northeast Florida.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports the 2019-20 budget features funding for downtown Jacksonville apartment construction at the vacant Community Connections building, a new multi-million dollar youth sports complex in Clay County, a tourism branding campaign for Amelia Island in Nassau County and a piece of the long-awaited bypass road around the western side of St. Augustine.

The bypass, which would relieve traffic on U.S. 1, has been on the drawing board for decades. The $3.7 million would be just a portion of what’s needed for the entire bypass, but St. Johns County officials called it a strong start toward the county’s No. 1 transportation priority.

“Everything’s relative — we’re probably not like Atlanta or even Orlando, but U.S. 1 is unbelievably crowded and people ask me all the time, ‘Commissioner, why can’t you do something about the traffic jams on U.S. 1?’ ” said County Commissioner Henry Dean.

“I think it gets our foot in the door,” St. Johns County Commission Chairman Paul Waldron said Thursday.

Northeast Florida was well-positioned this session with state Sen. Rob Bradley and state Rep. Travis Cummings, both Republicans from Fleming Island, leading budget negotiations on behalf of their chambers. Other lawmakers from the region served on the budget conference committee that made decisions in a year when the strong economy made budget increases possible.

Assuming the budget wins approval from the Legislature on Saturday, the fate of the legislative decisions will rest with Gov. Ron DeSantis and his line-item veto pen. It will be his first budget as governor.

For a look at other First Coast projects also getting funding see the expanded version of this story on Jacksonville.com.