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Source: US State of Florida

Tallahassee —

Senate Proposed Bill (SPB) 7020, Emergency Staging Areas, today passed the Senate Committee on Infrastructure and Security, chaired by former Senate President Tom Lee (R-Brandon). The legislation provides for the plan, design, and construction of permanent Staging Areas for Emergencies (SAFE) as part of Florida’s Turnpike System.

“Recent hurricanes are an all too present reminder of the need to keep Floridians and their families as safe as possible before, during, and after a storm by proactively and strategically locating emergency supplies, including fuel reserve capacity, in key areas across the state,” said Senate President Galvano (R-Bradenton). “We want to ensure that nothing is standing in the way of critical supplies and assistance reaching communities struck by a natural disaster or an emergency situation.  This legislation creates a reliable and consistent approach to emergency staging along Florida’s Turnpike System, with myriad benefits to Floridians and visitors to our state.”

“The increased availability of permanent and secure staging areas will help improve the efficiency of emergency response, making it quicker and easier to disseminate emergency supplies, including food, water, and fuel,” said Senator Lee. “During non-emergency periods, these secure areas along Florida’s Turnpike System will increase safety on our roads by providing commercial vehicle parking for drivers complying with federal hours-of-service and off-duty requirements.”

SPB 7020 would allow for the creation of permanent areas for the staging of emergency supplies to facilitate the prompt provision of emergency assistance to the public in response to a declared state of emergency.

The bill directs the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in consultation with the Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM), to consider several factors when selecting proposed sites for SAFE locations. SAFE locations must be created in geographic areas that best facilitate wide dissemination of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide ease of access to major highways and other transportation facilities; be large enough to accommodate the staging of a significant amount of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide space in support of emergency preparedness and evacuation activities, such as fuel reserve capacity; and, can be used during non-emergency periods for commercial motor vehicle parking. Additionally, the FDOT is required to give priority consideration to placement of such staging areas in counties with a population of 200,000 or less in which an M-CORES corridor is located.

The proposed bill presents no immediate fiscal impact to state or local revenues or expenditures. Once identified, SAFE location projects would be included in the FDOT’s work program.