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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Accelerating whose horizons, Charlie?



Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday that 179 road and bridge projects will be "accelerated" on the DOT work program, each from one to five months, as a way of injecting a little life into Florida's stagnant economy. The state says the projects total $1.4-billion and will employ 39,000 people. "Floridians need our help," Crist said.

Crist unveiled the "Accelerate Florida" program in August, but Wednesday was the first time DOT was able to identify specific projects that are being sped up. They include the State Road 39 bridge over the Hillsborough River, widening I-75 between Naples and Fort Myers, adding capacity to State Road 50 in Orlando and replacing the Max Brewer Bridge in Brevard County.

The full name of the program is "Accelerate Florida: Extending Florida's Economic Horizons." Crist and DOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos stood in front of a backdrop featuring the program's logo, and some of the participants wore "Accelerate Florida" lapel stickers, which to The Buzz looked clearly like the onset of Crist's 2010 re-election campaign. "You can see whatever you want. I don't. I don't," Crist said. "The news is that Florida's moving forward, and we're moving forward more quickly."

Of the 179 projects, just 12 are in the Tampa Bay region, including: "Resurfacing of 4.5 miles of Fifth Avenue N. (Alt. U.S. 19) from Fourth St. to 58th St. in St. Petersburg and sidewalk repairs." Kopelousos said the "acceleration" comes from speeding up the permitting process by 30 days or more.


[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 8:56am]


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