Changes Coming to Foot-of-The-Bridge Project

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That’s what Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Adam Rose tells Beach Talk Radio News.

F.D.O.T. is planning to present its changes to the Fort Myers Beach town council in August, which is when the council returns from summer break. Rose did not specify which August meeting the presentation would be made. He would only say that “after that meeting with the town council, more information will be available.” The council has regular meetings Monday, August 1st and Monday, August 15th and a Management & Planning meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 4th. The agenda for the August 1st town council meeting has not been posted yet.

There are three major concerns with the current F.D.O.T. plan for the project. One is the number of crosswalks the state plans to include at the base of the bridge. Many people believe that a major reason the traffic is consistently backed up or stopped on Estero Boulevard has to do with pedestrians crossing the road wherever and whenever they can. The state plan includes additional crosswalks at the base of the bridge.

Another concern was the elimination of what is now a bus lane coming over the bridge, onto the beach, which is also used by bicyclists. In the current plan that bus lane will be converted to a regular traffic lane for all oncoming bridge traffic. It would move all pedestrian and bicycle traffic, going in both directions, onto the other side of the bridge.

FDOT was considering a cantilever option which would have allowed bicyclists and pedestrians to use a lane extended out over the 2nd lane. In the end that was ruled out because of the increased maintenance costs, potential decrease of load capacity, and the overall decrease of the lifespan of the bridge. The Fort Myers Beach town council was originally under the impression, from previous state presentations, that the project would include a walkway – on both sides of the bridge – for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

The third concern has to do with the alternating traffic light at Prescott and Buttonwood (the state project extends all the way from the foot of the bridge to that traffic light). F.D.O.T. is planning to change the light at Prescott and Buttonwood from an alternating light to a regular traffic light as drivers jostle for position to come over the bridge.

Several members of the town council believe the alternating light needs to stay the way it is. They say it has saved lives and prevented road rage incidents. The F.D.O.T. plan also calls for widening the road as drivers approach the bridge, which they believe will eliminate the jostling to get back into the one lane heading toward the bridge. And the wider two lanes leading to the bridge would connect with the two lanes on the bridge if that remains the plan. In the end, whatever is decided, the bridge traffic will funnel into a one lane road on the beach, Estero Boulevard.

A public hearing was held for the community back in February.Rose did not know if the changes being presented to the council next month will also lead to another public hearing for the community.

If all goes according to plan, the $7.9 million project could start by the middle of 2023 and be completed by the end of 2024.

 

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