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DOT budget revives $ for parkway; raise questions about benefits to Alexander's undeveloped land

JD Alexander is close to getting the university he has wanted for Polk County.

He might be getting part of the road he has wished for, too.

Despite a $1.4 billion budget shortfall and at times heated rhetoric about finding ways to spend fewer state dollars, budget writers have tucked $34.7 million into this year's proposed spending plan for the design of a portion of the Heartland Parkway — a long-dormant road project in Central Florida.

If lawmakers approve the state's proposed transportation work plan, which includes billions of dollars for hundreds of other projects, about $18 million could be spent on the Polk project starting this summer. Another $16.7 million is earmarked for 2014 or 2015.

Alexander, a businessman worth more than $10 million and whose company owns a large ranch that could benefit if the entire road gets built, has advocated for the parkway in the past. As the Senate budget chairman, he holds huge sway in how every state dollar is spent. Story here.

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