The Department of Transportation may plan, design, and construct staging areas to be activated during a declared state of emergency at key geographic locations on the turnpike system. Such staging areas must be used for the staging of emergency supplies, such as water, fuel, generators, vehicles, equipment, and other related materials, to facilitate the prompt provision of emergency assistance to the public, and to otherwise facilitate emergency response and assistance, including evacuations, deployment of emergency-related supplies and personnel, and restoration of essential services. (1) In selecting a proposed site for a designated staging area under this section, the department, in consultation with the Division of Emergency Management, must consider the extent to which such site:
(a) Is located in a geographic area that best facilitates the wide dissemination of emergency-related supplies and equipment;
(b) Provides ease of access to major highways and other transportation facilities;
(c) Is sufficiently large to accommodate the staging of a significant amount of emergency-related supplies and equipment;
(d) Provides space in support of emergency preparedness and evacuation activities, such as fuel reserve capacity;
(e) Could be used during nonemergency periods for commercial motor vehicle parking and for other uses; and
(f) Is consistent with other state and local emergency management considerations.
The department must give priority consideration to placement of such staging areas in counties with a population of 200,000 or fewer, as determined by the most recent official estimate pursuant to s. 186.901, in which a multiuse corridor of regional economic significance, as provided in s. 338.2278, is located.
(2) The department may acquire property and property rights necessary for such staging areas as provided in s. 338.04.
(3) The department may authorize other uses of a staging area as provided in the Florida Transportation Code, including, but not limited to, for commercial motor vehicle parking to comply with federal hours-of-service off-duty requirements or sleeper berth requirements and for other vehicular parking to provide rest for drivers.
(4) Staging area projects must be included in the work program developed by the department pursuant to s. 339.135.