A transportation plan that was approved Friday paves the way for major road projects in Golden Gate Estates over the next nine years.
The plan also calls for a new six-lane “Veterans Memorial Boulevard” that would link Old 41 Road in North Naples to Livingston Road.
The Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization unanimously approved the “interim 2015 transportation plan,” which prioritizes the projects outlined in a 2030 plan that was recently approved.
Projects in the 2015 plan are much more likely to be built in the near future, and county officials are much more confident in the revenue projections to pay for them.
In the new plan, more than $100 million is slated to be spent on a controversial eastward extension of Vanderbilt Beach Road out to DeSoto Boulevard.
Also on the books is money for planning and studies for a new interchange at Interstate 75 and Everglades Boulevard, and a Randall Boulevard extension to Oil Well Road.
County transportation planner Joseph Quinty said just because projects are in the plan doesn’t necessarily mean they will be built. He said it’s still the county commissioners’ call on each project.
The County Commission could make a decision on the Vanderbilt Beach Road extension next month.
“It (the 2015 plan) is the next step,” Quinty said. “More likely, some of these projects will undergo further study and go into our five-year plan, which needs to be updated by commissioners on a project-by-project basis.”
The MPO is comprised of all of the county commissioners, state transportation officials, and city representatives. The plan it approved identified current funding sources from federal, state, and local agencies.
The projected revenue through 2015 to pay for roads, bridges, transit and pathway projects is about $760.1 million, about $16 million short of what is needed.
But the shortfall didn’t bother a consultant who crunched the numbers.
“It is a relatively balanced program,” said consultant Dawn Wolfe with the TBE Group.
County Commissioner Fred Coyle was pleased to learn that the 2015 plan didn’t anticipate revenue from a new sales tax, which was calculated into the 2030 plan’s revenue projections.
“I’d like to be assured in our revenue projections there are no hidden tax increases,” Coyle said.
Wolfe assured Coyle there weren’t.
“These are your current revenue sources and their trends,” she said.
Don Scott, who heads up the county’s transportation planning division, also pointed out that the plan didn’t factor in grants the county could be receiving in the next nine years, which will be actively pursued.
County Commissioner Tom Henning expressed concern about property tax dollars being slated for projects in the plan to accommodate future development.
The plan identified $222 million being spent through 2015 from this bill on property.
“I would like to see us try to move away from ad valorem funding for future growth,” Henning said.
“I don’t think it’s fair for our existing residents to help pay for the future growth in the county. I understand paying for a backlog. But future growth should stand on its own.”
But Commissioner Jim Coletta, whose district includes the Estates where many of the road projects are planned, said he would be concerned about scaling back on the $22 million yearly property tax contribution.
“I do have reservations,” he said.
Also noted in the new plan is:
• $32.3 million to widen to four lanes a 3.9-mile stretch of Golden Gate Boulevard from Wilson Boulevard to Everglades Boulevard;
• $11 million to widen from two to four lanes Wilson Boulevard from Vanderbilt Beach Road to Immokalee Road;
• $28 million to widen to four lanes a stretch of Immokalee Road from Camp Keais Road to State Road 29.