FDOT Answers Your Matanzas Pass Bridge Questions

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During a public meeting back in January, the Florida Department of Transportation presented its plan to redesign the Matanzas Pass Bridge, and the foot-of-the-bridge on the beach side. That presentation left residents with many questions. Last night, in an e-mail to local residents, FDOT answered to all of those questions.

The biggest issues residents had with the redesign were: the number of crosswalks at the base of the bridge, which leads to traffic stoppages that halt traffic for miles in both directions, the consolidation of a pedestrian/bike pane to one side of the bridge and the elimination of the alternating light at Buttonwood and Prescott which has eliminated the need for drivers to jockey for position as they approach the bridge.

As a result of your questions, and pressure from the Fort Myers Beach public safety committee, the option to eliminate some of the crosswalks at the base of the bridge is being considered. The one lane pedestrian/bike lane on the bridge remains. And, the alternating light just might be saved.

Check out all the answers to your questions below and follow all of our coverage on this issue HERE.

  1. What is the scope of improvements for this project?
    The scope of the project is limited to modifications of the existing bridges and roadways. The  purpose of these improvements is to provide interim solutions to current traffic and safety issues  until such time a future project is designated to address expanded capacity for travel lanes,  transit lanes, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks across the Matanzas Pass Bridge.
  1. Was a cantilever option explored for the Matanzas Pass Bridge?
    Yes. The original concept from the Operational Analysis phase of the project proposed an  additional 14-foot, 7 ½-inch cantilevered bridge deck widening along the western side of the  Matanzas Pass Bridge to accommodate an 8-foot shared use path and associated safety barriers.
  1. What are the results of the corrosion study performed for the Matanzas Pass Bridge? The results of the corrosion study showed that the Matanzas Pass Bridge is safe for use with the  proposed improvements shown at the public hearing. The study includes a Life Cycle Cost  Analysis to assist the FDOT in assessing the remaining lifespan of the bridge and determining when to cost-effectively replace the bridge. Additional bridge deck width will shorten the remaining lifespan of the bridge. At this time, the FDOT does not recommend additional bridge  deck width until such time a future project is designated to address expanded capacity for travel lanes, transit lanes, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks across the Matanzas Pass Bridge.
  2. Can a traffic light be placed at the intersection of San Carlos Boulevard and Siesta Drive? 
    The intersection of San Carlos Boulevard and Siesta Drive is outside the limits of the design phase  of this project. There are no proposed improvements for this intersection at this time. A Signal Warrant Analysis was conducted during the Operational Analysis phase of the project. The results of the analysis showed a new signal was not warranted at this intersection. The need for  a new signal will be re-evaluated for any future planned improvements along San Carlos Boulevard at the Siesta Drive intersection.
  3. How does adding more traffic lights help reduce traffic?
    The new signals proposed at the Main Street intersection and the Fifth Street intersection are intended to safely control traffic flow and not to reduce traffic flow. The new signal proposed at  the Main Street intersection is intended to provide a safe crossing location for pedestrians using  the existing sidewalk on the eastern side of the Matanzas Pass Bridge. The new signal proposed  at the Fifth Street intersection is intended to provide a safe crossing location for pedestrians as a replacement for the existing pedestrian crosswalk signal.
  1. Can the design accommodate keeping the alternating signal?
    Yes. While the current design does not include the alternating signal, the FDOT is coordinating  with Lee County to evaluate options for maintaining the alternating signal at the Prescott Street/Buttonwood Drive intersection.
  1. Will pedestrian channelizing devices be implemented as part of this project?  Pedestrian channelizing devices are not currently proposed for this project. However, the FDOT is  coordinating with the Town of Fort Myers Beach and Lee County on landscape concepts intended  to enhance the aesthetics of the area near Times Square while also deterring uncontrolled  pedestrian crossings through the roadway.
  2. Can a pedestrian overpass be built to avoid impacts to traffic?
    A new pedestrian overpass is not included within the scope of this project. Representatives for  the new Margaritaville Beach Resort have indicated that the resort’s pedestrian overpass near  Crescent Street will be open to the public.
  1. Why are there so many crosswalks as part of the design? Can the crosswalks be placed in high  impact areas to help move pedestrians while avoiding impacts to traffic?
    Crosswalks and the accompanying Walk/Do Not Walk signals and pushbuttons proposed at the Fifth Street intersection are intended as a safe replacement for the existing pedestrian crosswalk signal. Based on feedback received from the public hearing and from Fort Myers Beach Town Council, the FDOT is evaluating options to consolidate or eliminate crosswalks at the Fifth Street intersection and channelize pedestrians to the new signal at Old San Carlos Boulevard or the  planned signal at Crescent Street.
  1. Will the crosswalks have flashing beacons on them to help draw attention to their placement?
    The proposed crosswalks at Main Street intersection and Fifth Street intersection are intended to  be fully signalized, with Walk/Do No Walk signals and pushbuttons. The proposed mid-block  crosswalks between Fifth Street and Crescent Street will have pedestrian crossing signs with  pushbutton activated rapid rectangular flashing beacons (RRFBs).
  2. Are any barriers anticipated to be placed between the traffic and bicyclist lane?
    No barriers are proposed at this time between the travel lane and bicycle lane. New 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes are proposed along San Carlos Boulevard from Main Street to Hurricane Bay Bridge.  Accommodation for the new bicycle lanes will be made by adjusting lane widths of the existing  roadway. A speed study was conducted to evaluate lowering posted speed to 35 mph on San Carlos Island. At 35 mph, lane widths could be adjusted to accommodate 7-foot-wide buffered  bicycle lanes. Buffered bicycle lanes have sufficient width to accommodate a lane separation device. At this time, the FDOT is recommending 40 mph posted speed on San Carlos Island and  the 5-foot bicycle lanes presented at the public hearing. Further reduction of posted speed and  accommodation for separation devices between the travel lane and bicycle lane would be  evaluated for any future planned improvements along San Carlos Boulevard.
  3. Will the guardrail from San Carlos Blvd. to Estero Blvd. be removed as part of the project?
    The guardrail in the southwest corner of the Fifth Street intersection is proposed to be replaced with a concrete barrier wall.
  1. Is it possible to have a separate bike lane and sidewalk instead of a shared use path?
    Due to the limitations on the scope of work for this project and the results of the corrosion study, the Matanzas Pass Bridge will not be widened at this time. The existing bridge deck does not  have sufficient width to provide a separate bicycle lane and sidewalk on the bridge.
  2. Will there be sidewalks on both sides of Matanzas Pass Bridge?
    Due to the limitations on the scope of work for this project and the results of the corrosion study, the Matanzas Pass Bridge will not be widened at this time. The existing bridge deck does not have sufficient width to provide a separate bicycle lane and sidewalk on the bridge.
  1. Did the study include evaluating parking mitigation to help with traffic? If so, what methods  were evaluated?
    Yes, several parking mitigation methods were evaluated during the Operational Analysis Study from parking garages to designated parking lots. The results of the study can be found in the  Operational Analysis Report, located under the “Documents and Publications” section of the  website.
  1. Have additional transit methods like a trolly or buses been evaluated?
    The FDOT is coordinating with LeeTran to address current and future transit needs along San  Carlos Boulevard.
  1. Why is the Times Square bus stop being moved?
    The new bus bay proposed near Crescent Beach Family Park is a coordinated effort with LeeTran  and Fort Myers Beach and the planned Times Square Redesign project.
  1. Can a toll be implemented to encourage visitors to find alternative modes of transportation  onto the island?
    Southbound tolling was evaluated during the Operational Analysis phase of the project. The Operational Analysis Report did not recommend tolling based on current policy and analysis showing no impact to traffic congestion.
  1. Can traffic be diverted down Crescent Street to relieve congestion?
    Crescent Street to Fifth Street will remain an alternate route for exiting the beach. There are no plans for this project to divert all of Estero Boulevard traffic onto Crescent Street.
  1. Can the alternating signal at the Prescott Street/Buttonwood Drive intersection be based on need, rather than time alone?
    As part of this project, all the existing and proposed signals along San Carlos Boulevard from Pine  Ridge Road to Crescent Street will be connected to the Lee County Traffic Operations Center (TOC). From the TOC, Lee County will be able to monitor the operation of the signals and adjust  signal function.
  1. Can more directional/way-finding signage be added to help tourists?
    The FDOT is coordinating with Fort Myers Beach and Lee County on appropriate signage along San Carlos Boulevard and Estero Blvd. from Crescent Street to Fifth Street.
  1. Can law enforcement presence be increased as part of this project?
    The need for increased law enforcement presence within the project limits will be coordinated with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
  1. Will this project impact emergency response times and access?
    The FDOT team has initiated further coordination with Lee County and Town of Fort Myers Beach staff to address any issues and concerns that have been brought forward regarding emergency response.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The solution is not the bridge. The solution is on the other side of the bridge. The county should be looking at purchasing everything from the double light to the green unsightly strip club. There multiple parking garages can be built. Buy three teams like Disney uses. Shuttle people over the bridge. The lane is already there. The traffic light to get out of the Prescott is already there. It’s about not having as much traffic come over that bridge. Not lanes or lights, or crosswalks. Have to think how to bring people but not their vehicles over that bridge. Based on all costs payback would be in the 5-6 year range. As most parking garages cost about 30k per spot to construct.

    • Several of the buildings are vacant and an eyesore now. ie: The Fish Monger. Sounds like a something to consider.

  2. Having signalized lights for the walk ways is useless and will further back up traffic in both directions. Pedestrians pay no attention to the lights/signals in Times Square and walk right out in front of traffic constantly (I go through there at least twice a day and always see people walking when they are not supposed to-and they get mad at the motorists!!). There is a desperate need for raised pedestrian bridges if you want to keep traffic moving and everyone safe.

  3. The removal of the traffic light at Buttonwood is both foolish and dangerous. In these times of road rage we don’t need to return to one light for all. All of the people on the San Carlos side of the bridge need the light to avoid having bumper to bumper up to the bridge

  4. PLEASE don’t remove the traffic light at Buttonwood. Not only does it move traffic at a fairer pace, it helps getting left out of restaurants and homes onto San Carlos.

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