Tentative date set for Jolley Bridge toll hearing

A tentative date has been set for citizens to air their views about the construction of a new Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge and a possible vehicle toll for the structure.

Should there be a toll to pay for the repairs/upgrades to the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge?

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Marco Island Senior Project Manager Tim Pinter said Friday the first public hearing that will be part of the Jolley Bridge Toll Feasibility Study is scheduled for April 2 at Mackle Park.

"That's just tentative right now," he said.

Pinter hopes to hear from Collier County officials this week with a firm date and time for the hearing.

The Florida Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for the bridge, said that the structure needs to be replaced because it was built more than 30 years ago. The cost of the bridge is estimated to be $30-$40 million. A toll is being considered to fund at least part of the construction of a four-lane structure.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a countywide multiagency group that studies transportation and planning, decides how to spend money the DOT allocates to Naples and Marco Island.

Marco Island City Councilor Mike Minozzi, who was recently elected vice-chairman of the MPO, said no recommendations or decisions about a toll or a dollar amount have been made. He added that the state paid $2 million for the engineering plans for the project, which are nearly completed.

Cambridge Systematics is doing the in-depth feasibility study. The firm plans to hold more hearings and give PowerPoint presentations to homeowners associations, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and other business and civic groups.

The study will answer many questions, including whether a toll to get on and/or off the island is needed, what the cost should be, how much revenue the toll would generate, where the toll booth should be located, whether traffic bottlenecks will result, and if Marco Island residents get a free or discounted pass.

If a toll booth is approved, city officials said it would likely be constructed near Capri Boulevard.

The MPO has earmarked $1 million for the study, which is being done in two phases. The first phase would be preliminary and cost $481,000, according to Minozzi.

In addition to Minozzi, other members of the MPO include all of the Collier County commissioners, two representatives from the City of Naples and one representative from Everglades City.

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