Alligator Alley plaza costs may fall on Collier County taxpayers

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Photo by WINK News.

The state pays for the operation of a Collier County plaza where thousands of motorist travel through every day. But as the state seeks to pass the expense to the county, a lawmaker has proposed a new plan to avoid having taxpayers be responsible for the costs.

The Greater Naples Fire and Rescue Station was built near mile marker 63 on Alligator Alley to save more lives. Commissioner Andy Solis said before that plaza was there, the stretch of highway was a dangerous trek.

“The response times were over 45 minutes,” Solis said. “That’s the difference between somebody surviving the accident and not surviving the accident.”

The station costs $1.5 million a year to run, which the state has covered. But now, the Florida Department of Transportation wants Collier County to pay for its operations. Solis said it is not right for his taxpayers to cover the costs.

“It doesn’t serve only Collier County residents,” Solis said. “It serves the state in the sense that it covers this major east-west interstate highway.”

State Senator Kathleen Passidomo is pushing for legislation that would require FDOT to pay for the station with the money it receives from the Interstate 75 tolls. Solis agrees with the position.

But the proposal has to pass by the summer or Collier County will be forced to pay for the costs. Should that happen, Solis and his board will have to decide whether to keep the station or eliminate the expensive expenditure.

“Most of the service calls on I-75 from that station are not Collier County residents,” Solis said.

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