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Traffic lights to go up, Matanzas Pass Bridge to be widened

February 26, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

As the county's road project enters its final year of work on Estero Boulevard, traffic signals have been approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for another section of town. Meanwhile, the state is pushing forward with its own road project which will widen Matanzas Pass Bridge among other improvements.

The Commission voted last Tuesday to proceed with design of a traffic signal at Estero Boulevard and Crescent Street as part of a larger effort to manage traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The signal at this intersection will be coordinated with a planned Town of Fort Myers Beach signal at Estero Boulevard/Old San Carlos Boulevard and a Florida Department of Transportation signal at San Carlos Boulevard/Fifth Street to coordinate traffic flow, according to county spokesperson Betsy Clayton.

Commissioners added the item as a supplemental task to a contract with David Douglas Associates, Inc., of Fort Myers, in the negotiated cost of $104,695. Funding for construction is budgeted with federal funds. Total project costs are estimated at $1 million, with $762,000 coming from the Florida Department of Transportation. Construction is expected to begin by early 2021.

Lee County Department of Transportation Director Randy Cerchie said the light at the busy Estero Boulevard and Old San Carlos Boulevard intersection will be constructed by the town. The new light being put up at Crescent Street will result in the changing of a lane configuration, Cerchie said.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council still have to approve the Estero Boulevard/Old San Carlos Boulevard light, Cerchie said. The issue is expected to be discussed at the town council's next meeting on March 2.

In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has conducted a traffic and environmental study from the Old San Carlos Boulevard corridor to the foot of Matanzas Pass Bridge for its planned road project there in 2021. The plan is to widen the bridge, Cerchie said. The county expects all of the changes will "improve traffic flow," he said. How much so remains to be seen based on the current plans since Estero Boulevard can't be widened, Cerchie said.

The Matanzas Pass Bridge will be widened to accommodate a new shared-use path along the west side of the bridge. The existing southbound Bus/Bicycle-Only lane will be converted to a general use travel lane, according to information provided by Zachary Burch, Government Affairs and Communications Manager for the Florida Department of Transportation

The Florida Department of Transportation is preparing the design of improvements along State Road 865 (San Carlos Boulevard) from Estero Boulevard to north of Hurricane Bay Bridge, approximately one mile.

San Carlos Boulevard from Main Street to Hurricane Bay Bridge will be restriped to accommodate bicycle lanes in each direction of travel. The existing southbound right-turn-only lane approaching Main Street will be converted to a general use travel lane that will continue across the Matanzas Pass Bridge. A new traffic signal will be constructed at Main Street. The traffic signal at Prescott Street and Buttonwood Drive will be modified to operate in alternating signal mode only when traffic backups are detected on the Matanzas Pass Bridge.

The Hurricane Bay Bridge will be modified to accommodate bicycle lanes in each direction of travel and a barrier- protected sidewalk along the west side of the bridge.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda was not available for comment.



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