(1) The Legislature finds that the construction of Alligator Alley, designated as State Highway 84 and federal Interstate Highway 75, has provided a convenient and necessary connection of the east and west coasts of Florida for commerce and other purposes. However, this state highway has contributed to the alteration of water flows in the Everglades and affected ecological patterns of the historical southern Everglades. The Legislature has determined that it is appropriate and in the public interest to establish a system of tolls for use of Alligator Alley to produce needed financial resources to help restore the natural resource values lost by construction of this highway.
(2) The Department of Transportation is directed to continue the system of tolls on this highway. Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 338.165(2) to the contrary, such toll collections shall be used for the purposes of this section. (3) Fees generated from tolls shall be deposited in the State Transportation Trust Fund, and any amount of funds generated annually in excess of that required to reimburse outstanding contractual obligations, to operate and maintain the highway and toll facilities, including reconstruction and restoration, and to pay for those projects that are funded with Alligator Alley toll revenues and that are contained in the 1993-1994 adopted work program or the 1994-1995 tentative work program submitted to the Legislature on February 22, 1994, may be transferred to the Everglades Fund of the South Florida Water Management District. The South Florida Water Management District shall deposit funds for projects undertaken pursuant to s. 373.4592 in the Everglades Trust Fund pursuant to s. 373.45926(4)(a). Any funds remaining in the Everglades Fund may be used for environmental projects to restore the natural values of the Everglades, subject to compliance with any applicable federal laws and regulations. Projects shall be limited to:
(a) Highway redesign to allow for improved sheet flow of water across the southern Everglades.
(b) Water conveyance projects to enable more water resources to reach Florida Bay to replenish marine estuary functions.
(c) Engineering design plans for wastewater treatment facilities as recommended in the Water Quality Protection Program Document for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
(d) Acquisition of lands to move STA 3/4 out of the Toe of the Boot, provided such lands are located within 1 mile of the northern border of STA 3/4.
(e) Other Everglades Construction Projects as described in the February 15, 1994, conceptual design document.
(4) The district may issue revenue bonds or notes under s. 373.584 and pledge the revenue from the transfers from the Alligator Alley toll revenues as security for such bonds or notes. The proceeds from such revenue bonds or notes shall be used for environmental projects; at least 50 percent of said proceeds must be used for projects that benefit Florida Bay, as described in this section subject to resolutions approving such activity by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and the remaining proceeds must be used for restoration activities in the Everglades Protection Area.