Alligator Alley fire station funding comes closer to reality
Public Safety Complex at Mile Marker 63 on Alligator Alley.

Mile Marker 63
Lone highway fire station will be funded with toll revenues through FDOT.

The path to permanent funding for a fire station on Alligator Alley passed a significant marker.

Legislation (HB 6011) promising Department of Transportation reimbursement for the station won unanimous support from the House Transportation and Tourism Subcommittee.

The mile marker 63 station on Interstate-75 serve cars traveling across the state of Florida from Collier to Broward County. But since the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) opened the facility in 2014, there has been debate over who pays to keep it operational.

The station is staffed by Collier County emergency officials, but just 12 percent of accidents on the road involve Collier County drivers.

In recent years, the Legislature authorized FDOT funding for the station, which draws from tolls paid on Alligator Alley. In the unlikely event those dollars are not enough, funding can be drawn from water management revenues in the area.

It’s an issue state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, has championed on the Senate side. Her bill (SB 72) already unanimously cleared three committees in the Senate, most recently Appropriations, and awaits a floor vote.

State Rep. Rob Rommel, a Naples Republican, has carried the bill now through two committees. The legislation now goes to State Affairs.

FDOT officials in the past have expressed reluctance about permanently financing operations at the station. But they have not voiced strong opposition on committee stops this year.

Lawmakers have argued that the cost of running the station is much lower than tolls received.

Without the station there, emergency officials may have to drive as long as 45 minutes for accidents near the center of the state. In that time, lives could be lost.

Passidomo in the past said there should be no concern about setting a precedent. The Alligator Alley station is the only one on a state road in Florida with no tax base to support it.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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