Last week the Florida Department of Transportation made a presentation to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council about their new foot of the bridge design project. The state is going with a design that drops several new crosswalks right at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge.
Everyone on Fort Myers Beach knows that one of the biggest reasons traffic gets backed up on Estero Boulevard is due to pedestrians crossing the road whenever they can. The state’s latest design plants a bevy of crosswalks right at the foot of the bridge where they are also planning a new traffic light.
Fort Myers Beach Public Safety Committee Chairman John Goggin has been the loudest voice on the crosswalk issue. He doesn’t want there to be any crosswalks in that area, preferring to funnel people to one crossing location to keep the traffic flowing.
Last week councilman Dan Allers and Jim Atterholt also voiced their concerns about adding so many crosswalks at the foot of the bridge. They wanted to know if walkovers or railings to channel pedestrians were considered. The state believes the multiple crosswalks, with electronic instructional signals, will alleviate the willy-nilly crossing of pedestrians. They also believe additional landscaping (see below) will keep people moving properly on the sidewalks.
There’s a question about who will own and maintain the $200,000 worth of landscaping once the state completes the project. The state is paying to plant the trees and shrubs but has no plan to maintain the landscaping. That will become the responsibility of either the town or the county.
The state’s project will be coordinated with several other construction projects within a several block area. Times Square will be redeveloped after next season. Bayside Park is getting a facelift. That project should start soon. A total of three new traffic lights will be installed and TPI’s Margartitaville resort will usher old, ugly, hurricane-ravaged buildings into the modern era.
What makes this foot-of-the-bridge project in such a small area even more interesting is that there are so many entities involved. The state owns the bridge, the county owns Estero Boulevard, the town will be working on the Times Square and Bayside Park projects and TPI is a private developer.
A public hearing on the project is expected before the state moves forward. When or where that public hearing will be held was not announced.
Work on this project is not expected to begin until the Spring or Summer of 2023.