(1) The authority may receive or solicit proposals and enter into agreements with private entities or consortia thereof, for the building, operation, ownership, or financing of transportation facilities within the jurisdiction of the authority. Before approval, the authority must determine that a proposed project:
(a) Is in the public’s best interest.
(b) Would not require state funds to be used unless the project is on or provides increased mobility on the State Highway System.
(c) Would have adequate safeguards to ensure that additional costs or service disruptions would not be realized by the traveling public and citizens of the state in the event of default or the cancellation of the agreement by the authority.
(2) The authority shall ensure that all reasonable costs to the state related to transportation facilities that are not part of the State Highway System are borne by the private entity. The authority also shall ensure that all reasonable costs to the state and substantially affected local governments and utilities related to the private transportation facility are borne by the private entity for transportation facilities that are owned by private entities. For projects on the State Highway System, the department may use state resources to participate in funding and financing the project as provided for under the department’s enabling legislation.
(3) The authority may request proposals for public-private transportation projects or, if it receives an unsolicited proposal, it must publish a notice in the Florida Administrative Weekly and a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which it is located at least once a week for 2 weeks stating that it has received the proposal and will accept, for 60 days after the initial date of publication, other proposals for the same project purpose. A copy of the notice must be mailed to each local government in the affected areas. After the public notification period has expired, the authority shall rank the proposals in order of preference. In ranking the proposals, the authority shall consider professional qualifications, general business terms, innovative engineering or cost-reduction terms, finance plans, and the need for state funds to deliver the proposal. If the authority is not satisfied with the results of the negotiations, it may, at its sole discretion, terminate negotiations with the proposer. If these negotiations are unsuccessful, the authority may go to the second and lower-ranked firms, in order, using the same procedure. If only one proposal is received, the authority may negotiate in good faith and, if it is not satisfied with the results, it may, at its sole discretion, terminate negotiations with the proposer. Notwithstanding this subsection, the authority may, at its discretion, reject all proposals at any point in the process up to completion of a contract with the proposer.
(4) Agreements entered into pursuant to this section may authorize the public-private entity to impose tolls or fares for the use of the facility. However, the amount and use of toll or fare revenues shall be regulated by the authority to avoid unreasonable costs to users of the facility.
(5) Each public-private transportation facility constructed pursuant to this section shall comply with all requirements of federal, state, and local laws; state, regional, and local comprehensive plans; the authority’s rules, policies, procedures, and standards for transportation facilities; and any other conditions that the authority determines to be in the public’s best interest.
(6) The authority may exercise any of its powers, including eminent domain, to facilitate the development and construction of transportation projects pursuant to this section. The authority may pay all or part of the cost of operating and maintaining the facility or may provide services to the private entity for which it receives full or partial reimbursement for services rendered.
(7) Except as herein provided, this section is not intended to amend existing law by granting additional powers to or imposing further restrictions on the governmental entities with regard to regulating and entering into cooperative arrangements with the private sector for the planning, construction, and operation of transportation facilities.
(8) The authority may adopt rules to implement this section and shall, by rule, establish an application fee for the submission of unsolicited proposals under this section. The fee must be sufficient to pay the costs of evaluating the proposals.