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State looks to spend $20 million for pedestrian improvements near Daytona Speedway

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Updated: 1/02 10:32 pm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WFTV) -- Channel 9 has learned that the state is looking to use nearly $20 million in tax dollars for pedestrian improvements near Daytona International Speedway.

he money will be used to add pedestrian pathways, to accommodate the Daytona Rising project.

No sporting event in central Florida attracts more people on one day than a NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway.

That's why, on race days, local resident Paul Welch avoids the on the sidewalk on International Speedway Boulevard. 

"It's very dangerous during the race week, it's very dangerous and I wouldn't recommend going across without any police officers," Welch said. 

The state is now budgeting $20 million to make the area safer. Plans call for two more pedestrian overpasses and wider sidewalks.

 It coincides with the Speedway's $400 million makeover and expansion, which speedway officials expect will attract thousands more people.

"Why isn't the Speedway paying for these projects?" Channel 9's Bianca Castro asked a Speedway official.

"I would say (of) the Speedway and the International Speedway Corporation, we're huge economic drivers in this community as a whole. We generate over $1.6 billion in economic impact to central Florida area," said Lenny Santiago, senior director of public relations for Daytona International Speedway. "The state is making this investment because it sees us as a positive for the state and the community."

State officials said the improvements are about safety.

Castro learned there have more than 180 crashes on the stretch of road in front of the Speedway in the past four years.

Police said they don't know how many of those accidents involved pedestrians. A Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson said Volusia County is one of the top 10 counties for pedestrian accidents in the state. 

State leaders still have to approve FDOT's new budget before any improvements take place.
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