The Florida Department of Transportation on Wednesday rolled out its plans to privatize planned toll lanes on Interstate 4.
FDOT District 5 Secretary Noranne Downs says the decision comes down, in part, to simple math. The state has $1.7 billion to contribute to the project, but it will take $2.3 billion to complete.
"We don't have enough to finish it for us to do it ourselves, so we the people would have to wait a good 20 to 25 years to get the whole thing done and in pieces. You do it in pieces, it costs more money. It takes more time."
Instead of borrowing the money themselves to complete the lanes and keeping all the profit themselves, the state will have the private company come up with the last $600 million. Secretary Downs says that company will also be responsible for the maintenance of the road.
"They're responsible for it, and if they don't do a good job, then boom, we'll get somebody else."
Downs is confident people will choose to ride on the express lanes where tolls will vary according to how congested the rest of I-4 is.
"It's a great opportunity for people to make that choice themselves. They're very smart. Is that going to save me time and money? Will it help me with my stress? and I think they will definitely do it. I'll do it too."
The tolls collected will be given to the private company to pay back the loans for construction, provide for the upkeep of the highway and to realize a yet to be determined amount of profit.
Taxpayers will also eventually see some profits from the toll lanes, and the money will be used for other transportation projects in the Central Florida area, but taxpayers won't see any financial benefit from the new toll lanes before 2040.