Florida Road Funding Crisis

If you can make it into Rafael Marte's convenience store, consider yourself lucky. Potholes and traffic jams can make the ride over quite the challenge, and with less money for road construction, it may only get worse.

That's why Florida transportation advocates want the state to ask entrepreneurs like Rafael to volunteer a few bucks to keep the asphalt pouring.

"The road has to be fixed with the taxes that we pay for it," Rafael said. "Then there's no need for the business owner to chip in to fix the road. This is the government's job to do it."

In the midst of a down economy, they've become all too common along Florida's roads, panhandlers in need of a buck. Only now, it's not just struggling Floridians, but your struggling government, asking for money.

Asking businesses to pay for improving their local roads is only part of a new drive to find money from private sources. A bill in Washington would allow the state to expand I4 by building a toll lane.

Transportation lobbyist Doug Callaway calls it innovation in desperate times.

"I think we ought to be advocates for all of the above in terms of transportation funding. Conventional means, tolling, public-private partnerships, anything that's legal and ethical that will help fill the bill for the demand that the public in Florida has."

But in a down economy, the private sector may not have the money to spare.

Just ask Rafael, who says he wants more common sense from his government.

"You're spending money in places that you don't need to spend the money!"

In the end, pumping private money into public roads could either speed things up or make for one bumpy ride.

Transportation advocates say countries like Australia have been using public and private money to pay for their roads for decades, and believe that model would also work in Florida.

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