Florida officials appropriate more than $12M for new projects in the Panhandle

(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced more than $12 million in new infrastructure and workforce training grants for the Panhandle at a news conference in Pensacola on Monday.

DeSantis said one reason for the boost in infrastructure funding is to keep up with the growing number of people moving to the Sunshine State daily.

“We need to make sure we’re getting ahead of things when it comes to the roads, because the roads get very crowded,” DeSantis said, adding that the Moving Florida Forward program has been set up to get projects done on time and on budget.

In northwest Florida, Interstate 10 will be widened from four to six lanes in some parts, costing over $160 million. DeSantis noted that it will be an innovative way to help traffic flow and is also set to be completed ahead of schedule.

“We also have a major project here in Escambia County, where we’re going by the Alabama line and the exchange…$230 million, so that’s a huge huge thing for widening, and we’re just happy to be able to do it,” DeSantis said.

The Job Growth Grant Fund awards include:

$3 million for the DeFuniak Springs Airport.$4.4 million to Pensacola State College to establish a new airframe and powerplant mechanics program.$4.6 million to Jackson County to construct road and utility connections from State Route 276 to Old Airbase Road in Marianna.

DeSantis pointed out that Florida now has the lowest per-capita state debt of any state in the U.S. and Florida is also ranked number one in the nation for new business formation.

To continue building new jobs and career opportunities, DeSantis awarded $4.4 million to Pensacola State College to establish a new airframe and powerplant mechanics program.

“This program will provide an opportunity for more Floridians to work in the aviation and aerospace industry; this is an industry that’s doing very well in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “We’ve got over 130,000 aviation and aerospace jobs. Of course we have 20 commercial airports, and we’re the only state with four major airports.”

DeSantis added that this funding will help support the construction of a new hangar, training equipment, and operating costs at Pensacola airport for the new training program.

“We think there’s a great opportunity in northwest Florida with the college here, but also with a lot of the folks that come through here in the military,” DeSantis said. “As they leave the military these are great opportunities for them as well.”

DeSantis noted the area is well-known for Naval Aviation and that he wants to continue to build on that.

Under the state’s Defense Infrastructure Grant program, the Santa Rosa County Whiting Aviation Park will receive $500,000 to create a secure, double-entry gate system connecting Naval Air Station Whiting Aviation Park in Milton.