(1)(a) Any proposed project to be constructed or acquired as part of the turnpike system and any turnpike improvement shall be included in the tentative work program. No proposed project or group of proposed projects shall be added to the turnpike system unless such project or projects are determined to be economically feasible and a statement of environmental feasibility has been completed for such project or projects and such projects are determined to be consistent, to the maximum extent feasible, with approved local government comprehensive plans of the local governments in which such projects are located. The department may authorize engineering studies, traffic studies, environmental studies, and other expert studies of the location, costs, economic feasibility, and practicality of proposed turnpike projects throughout the state and may proceed with the design phase of such projects. The department shall not request legislative approval of a proposed turnpike project until the design phase of that project is at least 60 percent complete. If a proposed project or group of proposed projects is found to be economically feasible, consistent, to the maximum extent feasible, with approved local government comprehensive plans of the local governments in which such projects are located, and a favorable statement of environmental feasibility has been completed, the department, with the approval of the Legislature, shall, after the receipt of all necessary permits, construct, maintain, and operate such turnpike projects.
(b) Any proposed turnpike project or improvement shall be developed in accordance with the Florida Transportation Plan and the work program pursuant to s. 339.135. Turnpike projects that add capacity, alter access, affect feeder roads, or affect the operation of the local transportation system shall be included in the transportation improvement plan of the affected metropolitan planning organization. If such turnpike project does not fall within the jurisdiction of a metropolitan planning organization, the department shall notify the affected county and provide for public hearings in accordance with s. 339.155(6)(c). (c) Prior to requesting legislative approval of a proposed turnpike project, the environmental feasibility of the proposed project shall be reviewed by the Department of Environmental Protection. The department shall submit its Project Development and Environmental Report to the Department of Environmental Protection, along with a draft copy of a public notice. Within 14 days of receipt of the draft public notice, the Department of Environmental Protection shall return the draft public notice to the Department of Transportation with an approval of the language or modifications to the language. Upon receipt of the approved or modified draft, or if no comments are provided within 14 days, the Department of Transportation shall publish the notice in a newspaper to provide a 30-day public comment period. The headline of the required notice shall be in a type no smaller than 18 point. The notice shall be placed in that portion of the newspaper where legal notices appear. The notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties of general interest and readership in the community as provided in s. 50.031, not one of limited subject matter. Whenever possible, the notice shall appear in a newspaper that is published at least 5 days a week. The notice shall include, but is not limited to, the following information:
1. The purpose of the notice is to provide for a 30-day period for written public comments on the environmental impacts of a proposed turnpike project.
2. The name and description of the project, along with a geographic location map clearly indicating the area where the proposed project will be located.
3. The address where such comments must be sent and the date such comments are due.
After a review of the department’s report and any public comments, the Department of Environmental Protection shall submit a statement of environmental feasibility to the department within 30 days after the date on which public comments are due. The notice and the statement of environmental feasibility shall not give rise to any rights to a hearing or other rights or remedies provided pursuant to chapter 120 or chapter 403, and shall not bind the Department of Environmental Protection in any subsequent environmental permit review.
(2)(a) Subject to the provisions of s. 338.228, the department is authorized to expend, out of any funds available for the purpose, such moneys as may be necessary for studies, preliminary engineering, construction, right-of-way acquisition, and construction engineering inspection of any turnpike project and is authorized to use its engineering and other resources for such purposes. (b) In accordance with the legislative intent expressed in s. 337.273, and after the requirements of paragraph (1)(c) have been met, the department may acquire lands and property before making a final determination of the economic feasibility of a project. The requirements of paragraph (1)(c) do not apply to hardship and protective purchases of advance right-of-way by the department. The cost of advance acquisition of right-of-way may be paid from bonds issued under s. 337.276 or from turnpike revenues. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “hardship purchase” means purchase from a property owner of a residential dwelling of not more than four units who is at a disadvantage due to health impairment, job loss, or significant loss of rental income. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “protective purchase” means that a purchase to limit development, building, or other intensification of land uses within the area right-of-way is needed for transportation facilities. The department shall give written notice to the Department of Environmental Protection 30 days before final agency acceptance as set forth in s. 119.0711, which notice shall allow the Department of Environmental Protection to comment. Hardship and protective purchases of right-of-way shall not influence the environmental feasibility of a project, including the decision relative to the need to construct the project or the selection of a specific location. Costs to acquire and dispose of property acquired as hardship and protective purchases are considered costs of doing business for the department and are not to be considered in the determination of environmental feasibility for the project. (3) All obligations and expenses incurred by the department under this section shall be paid by the department and charged to the appropriate turnpike project. The department shall keep proper records and accounts showing each amount that is so charged. All obligations and expenses so incurred shall be treated as part of the cost of such project and shall be reimbursed to the department out of turnpike revenues or out of the bonds authorized under ss. 338.22-338.241 except when such reimbursement is prohibited by state or federal law.
(4) The department is authorized, with the approval of the Legislature, to use federal and state transportation funds to lend or pay a portion of the operating, maintenance, and capital costs of turnpike projects. For operating and maintenance loans, the maximum net loan amount in any fiscal year shall not exceed 1.5 percent of state transportation tax revenues for that fiscal year.