Space Florida and PortMiami have been awarded a combined $98 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation that will go towards upgrading their infrastructure.
“As Florida’s population continues to increase, we must work to ensure that our transportation infrastructure remains robust and up to date for our citizens and visitors,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Our ports and spaceports are essential to our future economic success. This federal investment will further strengthen PortMiami, Cape Canaveral and our space industry, as well as our transportation infrastructure system as a whole.”
In 2018, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey worked with the Florida congressional delegation to pass legislation for the construction of a new bridge that would replace the aging Indian River Bridge.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is now stepping up to help with that replacement plan.
On Thursday, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao announced her agency had accepted Space Florida’s application to fund the construction of a new bridge, awarding the organization a $90 million INFRA grant.
“If we want to continue to conduct launches, grow our space industry and support our local economy, we will need to replace the Indian River Bridge, which is critical infrastructure to our space capability,” Posey said in a statement applauding the DOT’s decision.
For 55 years, the Indian River Bridge has been connecting State Road 405 to the Kennedy Space Center. But after more than five decades of the wear and tear, the bridge is on the cusp of no longer being able to handle carrying space-bound or returning freight.
Without the new twin high-level bridges that would allow for the transportation of oversized vehicles to launch sites, the growth of Florida’s skyrocketing space industry would be stifled.
The funds will also be used to widen a portion of Space Commerce Way and rehabilitate a stretch of NASA Parkway West.
“[Being awarded the grant] took a lot of teamwork, and it demonstrates the U.S. Department of Transportation’s confidence in the state to execute. We are excited for the opportunity to showcase Space Florida’s capabilities of meeting the needs of the commercial sector,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “We can now look forward to a new more robust transportation infrastructure to support Florida’s dominant position in the commercial space marketplace.”
Over at PortMiami, the $8 million grant will be used to restore and expand the Seaboard Marine Terminal. This is the second year in a row that PortMiami has received an INFRA grant, with last year’s $7 million being used for a new gate complex.
“I thank the USDOT for awarding nearly $100 million for two major projects that will greatly impact our infrastructure in Florida,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault. “These projects are critical to supporting growth both within PortMiami and Cape Canaveral and will further solidify Florida’s position as one of the best transportation systems in the country.”
In total, the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding 20 grants, worth a combined $856 million, to projects in 19 states.
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.