Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club welcomed as a guest speaker James Bennett, urban transportation development manager for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 2, which encompasses 18 counties, including Nassau. Bennett outlined FDOT’s work program priorities as highway safety, preservation of existing roads, expansion of roadway capacity, improvement of freight logistics as well as construction of trails and bike paths. In addition, FDOT funds a number of other projects that support airports, mass transit, railways, seaports and handicapped accessibility. The department partners with cities, counties and the federal government to undertake these projects, which can be a lengthy process because of the many phases required before construction can even begin. He noted that this has been the case with the expansion of A1A from I-95 to County Road 107, saying that it can take up to two years just to acquire the many rights-of-way needed for the project. However, Bennett said, the $120 million six-lane expansion of A1A is scheduled to begin construction in 2016. In addition to this project, FDOT has committed some $2.6 million a year to other county road improvements as well as a $7.8 million investment at the Port of Fernandina to construct a much-needed larger pier.