jrhenline@naplesnews.com" /> Grandezza residents protest proposed County Road 951 extension » Marco Eagle

Grandezza residents protest proposed County Road 951 extension

More than 200 people, many wearing T-shirts saying "Move 951 East," crowded into the Grandezza Club House in Estero on Wednesday night to complain to county represenatives about the proposed extension of County Road 951.

Two neighborhoods in Grandezza, Savona and the future Trevi, would be lopped off from the rest of the community if the extension is built.

The extension would snake north from Immokalee Road in north Naples to Alico Road in Estero.

Many residents stated at the heated meeting that the road extension should go farther east, where many residential and commercial developments are planned.

"They are not looking at the full picture. The full picture is 2011 and 2030," said Bobbie Kauffman, a Grandezza resident. "The developments will be going east on Corkscrew. (County Road 951) will be obsolete" by then.

Lee County Department of Transportation representatives cited a need to relieve traffic gridlock on Interstate 75 and other north/south roads and encourage local travelers to use roads other than the interstate as reasons to build the extension of CR 951, also known as Collier Boulevard.

Six alternate routes that would have kept the extension out of Grandezza were rejected because of constraints on protected lands, high costs, impacts on existing communities and the likelihood that people would fail to use the other routes, said Don DeBerry, project manager with the county DOT.

Several Grandezza residents wanted to know what would happen to the houses in the path of the road.

"If the land is developed, and the project is approved, then those houses would be condemned," said DeBerry.

The extension is not a done deal, he stressed at the meeting. Lee County commissioners will have to approve the elimination of the alternate routes, which they will consider at a meeting Monday in Fort Myers.

Four buses will carry Grandezza residents to that meeting, said Claudine Wetzel, spokeswoman for Stock Development, the developer of the gated residential community.

Residents from Stoneybrook and Wildcat Run in Estero and Citrus Park in Bonita Springs also plan to attend the commission meeting in protest of the extension. The CR 951 extension would run right beside the three communities, and residents fear worsened traffic and declining property values. They plan to wear their T-shirts to the meeting because public comment won't be taken.

The best way to change the route is to send comments to the county commissioners, said Ralph Bove, a project manager with DRMP, a company with a Fort Myers office that is compiling a study about the road extension.

An alternate option would be to not build the road, Bove said.

"We're exploring the possibility of making U.S. 41 eight lanes. We do see some improvements on relieving congestion on I-75, but not as much as with CR 951," he said.

By 2030, the population is Lee County is expected to top 740,000, according to Bove's presentation at the meeting.

People are still moving to Florida, and they're bringing their cars," he said. "What we're trying to do is plan for 20 years in the future."

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