And they should be up by June 1st, according to Florida Power & Light representatives. Estero Boulevard will become much darker than it is now because of the amount of light the amber lights put out, compared to the white lights on the Boulevard now. In previous years the lights had to be completely turned off during turtle nesting season.
There are 131 light poles on Estero Boulevard. All of them suffered damage during Hurricane Ian. In the aftermath of the storm, FP&L repaired 88 of the 131 lights. White lights, which are not turtle compliant, were installed on those 88 poles. FP&L will now change out the white lights with 3,300 lumen amber lights.
According to Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers the amber lights will put out 75% less light than the white lights on Estero Boulevard now. And, there are not enough poles on Estero Boulevard so there will be dark spots between lights in certain areas. The new amber lights FP&L will be installing will also be shielded. The town has been struggling for years to find a solution to what is an extremely dark (Lee County owned) road at night, especially during turtle season, and provide an FWC compliant solution to protect the turtles from disorientation.
FP&L will cover the entire cost of changing out the lights to amber. This is a temporary solution to the Estero Boulevard lighting problem. The town wants to eventually install different amber lights that put out 12,000 lumens, compared to the 3,300 lumens from the amber lights FP&L will now be installing. However, the town doesn’t have the money to make that happen yet. A request for just under $8 million has been made to the Florida State Legislature for the money to pay for the lights and the town is waiting to see where that goes.
If the money is approved, additional light poles will be installed on Estero Boulevard so that there are no dark spots between the lights. It would be a town owned system that FP&L installs completely independent of any FPL poles now on the Boulevard. And the system would be underground so it is more resilient to future hurricanes.
The town would still buy the power from FP&L and there would be a 10-year maintenance agreement with FP&L. If the town receives the funding from the state FP&L says the new higher output amber fixtures could be installed before the 2024 turtle season.
Interim Manager Keith Wilkins said this is going to be a tough year for turtles.
“There’s a lot of light out there because so many buildings are gone. We’re in a difficult situation because of the hurricane.”