SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Just three months to go until the next legislative session in Florida. State Senator Jay Trumbull and House Representative Shane Abbott spoke in Walton County to help prioritize their efforts in the capital.  

Mayors from DeFuniak Springs and Freeport thanked the state lawmakers for efforts in 2023 to help fund needed infrastructure improvements.  

“I would like to take a quick moment to, again, express our appreciation to each of you for the considerable $3.75 million in appropriations that we received last year from the Florida legislature for the Marquis Way connector road,” said Freeport Mayor Russ Barley. “This project will help the city provide a safe, cost-effective transportation system and help alleviate increasing congestion in the central Walton and Freeport area.”

The community leaders also asked for more funding in the next session to keep up with an increasing population. 

“Our last request would be for you to consider funding to improve one of the major roads in our city, Bruce Ave,” said DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell. “As more and more traffic contributes to the tremendous congestion we’re seeing on US 31, we’re seeing a subsequent pattern of traffic shifting to the alternate routes, including Bruce Ave.” 

In a more immediate fashion, county commissioners signed and sent a letter on Sept. 26 against a recent project by Florida Power and Light to place power lines along 331 bridge.  

“They’re doing it strictly for financial reasons, and it’s going to be a nightmare for us. They’re going to work on it from the bridge. Therefore, that anything goes down, they’ll, you know, they’ll be working close on one lane of the bridge,” said Tony Anderson, district 5 commissioner.  

The chamber of commerce said the difference for undergrounding the utilities is $100 million more than going overhead. 

Senator Trumbull said they will work in Tallahassee to try and get more resources to FPL and change the current overhead plans. 

“I think it’s worth the ask, and it’s worth a try because it is such an important thoroughfare, you know, between the north and south end of the county. So we don’t have a choice but to get it right the first time,” said Jay Trumbull, Florida State Senator. 

Trumbull said affordability was a major concern brought up in the delegation tour around Northwest Florida this month. 

He said childcare and property insurance will be his main focus when the session begins on Jan 5.