Rep. Rooney Discusses Transportation Infrastructure

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

“We are uniquely qualified here in Florida, because we are basically a long island and we have ports on both sides of the state and up into the panhandle, that we can be as competitive as any state in terms of South America in our country.”

Florida’s infrastructure continues to be ranked top in the nation. In fact, last year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Florida number one in infrastructure, the Washington Post ranked Florida number one in roads and bridges and last year, our state received record levels of funding for the Department of Transportation.  One reason for the continued success is that transportation infrastructure remains a priority in the Florida Legislature.

“I think the governor plays a huge role in determining where his priorities are. I think infrastructure has been a main priority of the governor since he got into office,” Rep. Patrick Rooney, Chairman of the House Transportation and Ports Subcommittee. “I’ve been happy this session to pick up the ball and try to do what we need to do, at least from a policy standpoint, to make people aware of how important our roads or bridges and various other structures are in this state.”

With almost 100 million visitors to Florida, ease of access on our roads, bridges and ports is tantamount to our economy- smooth transportation infrastructure helps  more visitors see more of our state.

“When people come to this state, that many people… we want them to know when they get here that they are going to be able to get around easily,” said  Rep. Patrick Rooney .“It’s a state that while people might fly in here, a lot of people do drive in here and they want to have the ease of access to get to Disney World, to get to one of our beaches, or to get to South Beach. I think its hugely important that when they come here- whether it’s by air, through one of our airports , or driving here that they know they aren’t going to be facing some bridge disruption or potholes in the road.”

In 2013, the Florida Chamber Foundation commissioned the Trade and Logistics 2.0 study, a follow-up from the 2010 Trade and Logistics Study, that outlined how Florida can take advantage of the trade and transportation opportunities between now and 2030. Investing in Florida’s infrastructure is key to Florida’s transportation initiatives. In the last four years for instance, Florida has invested $850 million in ports, often increased with a local match.

“We have 15 seaports, I’ve visited six of them over the  last several months to get a feel for what they are doing and they are trying to get themselves amped up, ready by dredging, doing some things with the berths-making them bigger, there’s rail components that need to be finalized to make sure once the freight gets to these ports we have the ease and ability to get them on rails and get them where that fright needs to go,” explained Rep. Rooney. “That’s a crucial component, I think. We are uniquely qualified here in Florida, because we are basically a long island and we have ports on both sides of the state and up into the panhandle, that we can be as competitive as any state in terms of South America in our country.”

As Florida’s space industry grows and shifts, we must also be prepared to plan for the future of Florida’s spaceports.

“Spaceports are interesting- we have two right now,” said Re. Rooney.  “When the space shuttle program went away, I think people kind of felt like that’s it, there’s not going to be any more opportunity to do anything in terms of space here in Florida and that’s not the case. We are helping both of those facilities to again, be ready for the private sector… and whatever’s going to happen in the future. There is a plan in place to help both our space ports and our airports to make sure that we have the capabilities to not only deal with the folks that we have living here, and when they want to go on vacation or go somewhere, but almost as importantly are the folks coming in here and making sure that they’re getting here, getting where they want to go and having it be as trouble free as possible. “