The Fort Myers Beach Mayor and Town Manager have often said at town council meetings that Fort Myers Beach brings in millions of dollars for Lee County and isn’t getting what it deserves back from the county. When you see the facts of what Lee County actually does for Fort Myers Beach, you’ll realize that narrative isn’t reality.
One example of what the Mayor and Manager believe the beach deserves is for the county to pay for new, turtle-friendly, amber lights on Estero Boulevard. At the least, they believe the county should pay for some of the cost to install new lights. The county has only committed to paying for crosswalk lights which was part of the Estero Boulevard road construction project agreement.
Let’s take a look at what Lee County has done and will be doing for Fort Myers Beach.
The Estero Boulevard Road Construction Project.
Lee County will complete the reconstruction of the 2-lane roadway in early 2022 which included trolley stops, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and water and sewer improvements. The cost of the project is $80 million. Within that project is $1.4 million to light 42 crosswalks on Estero Boulevard.
The Big Carlos Pass Bridge
Lee County plans to spend $60 million (including $25 million from FDOT) to replace the Big Carlos Pass Bridge. The project is expected to begin in the 3rd quarter of next year and be completed by the 1st quarter of 2025. The Mayor has tried to stop the construction of the bridge because he and others will lose one of their favorite fishing spots.
The County plans to spend $893,000 for a traffic signal at the intersection of Estero Boulevard and Crescent street.
As part of the foot of the Matanzas Bridge traffic flow improvement project, Lee County will contribute $400,000 plus turn land over to the Florida Department of Transportation.
In 2020 Lee County completed a reroofing project on the pier concession stand that cost $42,304.
At Bowditch Point park, also in 2020, Lee County spent $64,050 to replace decking and other parts of the boardwalk. Tourist Development Tax Funds were used for that project.
At Lynn Hall Park in 2020, Lee County used $174,982 in Tourist Development Tax funds to add sand to the beach as a result of erosion from Hurricane Eta.
Four boardwalk ramps (including 3 that are ADA compliant) were constructed at Lynn Hall Park in 2020 to improve access to the beach. Outdoor showers were also installed. Lee County used $547,798 in TDT funds for that project.
Also completed in 2020 was the replacement of portions of a boardwalk, pavilion and paddlecraft landing at Matanzas Pass Preserve at a cost of $1 million.
All of the building roofs at Bowditch Point park are being replaced this year at a cost of $93,133.
The Fort Myers Beach pier was resurfaced this year. That project ran $83,849.
All the bathroom facilities at Lynn Hall Memorial Park were remodeled in 2021 to the tune of $441,218.
Projects still to be done by the county include replacing $180,000 worth of lights at Bowditch park and replacing the portable bathrooms at Crescent Park for $155,000.
Also part of what Lee County pays for is the free tram service. Three seasonal trams in operation are at no cost to Fort Myers Beach. The tram operates 7 days per week from 8AM to 11PM. Since the tram service began in 2018 Lee County has invested a total of $2.8 million keeping it operational. The rams are outfitted with cameras, safety barriers and meet all ADA specifications. LeeTran transports approximately 140,000 passengers per year to various locations on Fort Myers Beach.