To toll or not to toll is just one of the issues to be looked at next week by Marco Island residents, commuters, city officials and transportation experts.
The next of the In the Round lecture series is titled “What’s Up With the Judge Jolley Bridge?”
“The whole intent of the In the Round series is to bring the City of Marco Island hot topics, issues that are very current with a high level of interest and sometimes controversial. The Jolley Bridge fits that category,” said Keith Dameron, Orion Bank’s Marco Island branch manager.
Dameron said the evening will be casual and will strongly encourage that even presenters leave their suits and ties at home.
“We want people to be who they really are, so they don’t look like the head of this or the head of that,” he said.
The speakers include Collier County Transportation Administrator Norman Feeder, Metropolitan Planning Organization Director Phillip Tindall, Florida Department of Transportation Southwest Area Manager Johnny Limbaugh and Marco Island City County Chairman Bill Trotter.
The goal is to discuss the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge over the span of time from when it was first built, its first $.10 toll and its long-term future. The most emphasis will be on the current situation, Dameron said.
Trotter will be speaking on behalf of the city, including any plans for the city to take over responsibility for the bridge.
FDOT is currently the owner of the Jolley Bridge and responsible for maintenance and repairs and as such would collect the toll revenue. Limbaugh will likely be able to answer questions about FDOT’s maintenance and funding options, which may include alternatives to tolling.
While a recent study by the MPO found that tolling the bridge to pay for reconstruction is feasible, they have held off on phase two of that study.
MPO planner Brandy Otero said that after guidance from City Council in June indicated tolling was unpopular and there was a possible desire for the City of Marco Island to take over the bridge, the second phase of the study has shifted focus.
“The drawback (of Marco Island taking over the bridge) is going to be studied in the next phase if MPO decides to move forward,” Otero said.
Some alternative funding options considered include a one cent sales tax. Collier County would collect the tax and nothing mandates that it would go the Jolley Bridge,” Otero added.
She said that with routine maintenance the bridge could be safe for 20 years and with $590,000 per year in maintenance, it could be extended to 40 years.
“At some point it will still need to be rehabilitated. The design for the [new] bridge is already done,” she added.
MPO officials warn that the long-term plan has been to replace the bridge in 2030, but it is difficult to know when a strong storm could make the bridge unsafe.
Currently if the Jolley Bridge were taken out by a hurricane, the Goodland Bridge is not maintained to a level that would allow for it to sustain the increased traffic flow, Otero indicated.
Collier County owns the Goodland Bridge and no plans for reconstruction are in the near future.
Experts will further discuss the county’s current plans to explore placing a toll on the Jolley bridge, generating revenue by other means and plans which could begin with partial construction instead of complete replacement of the current two-lane bridge with a four-lane span by 2030.
The lecture has limited seating and reservations are required. The lecture is scheduled for July 30, with refreshments starting at 6:30 p.m. The formal program begins at 7 p.m., and a question and answer session will follow until 8:30 p.m. Orion Bank is located at 605 Bald Eagle Drive.
Call or e-mail Keith Dameron at Orion bank to make a reservation and submit some questions to speakers, email@example.com or 239-403-5169.