Marco backs next phase of bridge-toll study

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Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge

Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge

It’s like asking to pay more taxes.

There may be a payoff somewhere, but it’s hard to draw a straight line between the cost and the benefit.

Marco Island’s City Council received a presentation from the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization on Monday night and made the reluctant decision to approve a move forward with the next phase of a study that is increasingly forecasting a future of tolls to cross the island’s Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge.

“I don’t think we have much of a choice,” said Councilman Rob Popoff. “I don’t want to be tolled anymore than anyone else does, but we’re stuck in a situation where if we don’t move forward with this, we are putting our islanders in jeopardy, in my view of it.”

The presentation to the council of the Jolley Bridge Toll Feasibility Study came just 11 days before the MPO is set to receive a report on the study, commissioned to examine tolls as an alternative funding option for the replacement of the bridge.

The Marco Island City Council’s action, at the request of MPO Director Phil Tindall, recommends to the MPO board that the county proceed to the next step of the study, which examines in-depth the revenue that could be earned through tolls, and is necessary for the county or state to secure bonds to finance the project.

While the bridge is not slated for replacement until 2030, a design for the state-owned bridge is already complete and expected to cost $55 million in 2007 dollars.

And while the bridge is the top-priority unfunded project in the county, no current sources of revenue are dedicated toward paying that cost.

The motion to recommend advancing the phase two study forward hinges on a condition that the island have control of the tolls.

Tindall said the city and the MPO could have continued discussion about that condition, but he could not provide the council with an immediate answer. He said the bidding process for the second phase of the study would continue through the summer, giving the city and county enough time to continue negotiations.

“I’m against these tolls. Everybody I know is against these tolls,” said Councilman Ted Forcht. “If we’re gonna have a toll, if that’s the only way in the whole world that the grand state of Florida will replace a little old bridge over that river, the City of Marco Island has to have control of these tolls.”

The motion passed 6-1, with Council Chair Bill Trotter dissenting, stating that he believed the next step should advance immediately, and the condition over control of the tolls might slow the process down.

Though the studies and polls on the bridge have caused a fair amount of grumbling among the island’s residents in recent months, only a handful spoke at the meeting.

“Let’s back off to take time to seriously consider what we are doing,” said resident Richard Henry.

“We have heard sufficient questions on what we should be doing. We need to take these questions seriously and take sufficient time. Let’s not panic and overreact.”

The Collier County MPO board is slated to receive the presentation on the study at its June 13 meeting.

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Comments » 10

happy6 writes:

why not just back off completely....ignore the county and the state regarding the bridge.....they will fix the problems or replace the bridge when it's time....right now....do nothing....the bridge ain't falling down.

ejburger writes:

Sounds great to just ignore the problem until we have no way off of our island. Just like the STRP, we need to act before it becomes a serious issue not afterwards. We cannot wait until the bridge falls down to see what the state will do, nor could we continue to polute the canals with feces and once we ruined our waterways then sewer the island. Most Marco residents know this and voted accordingly. The council did what they were suppose to do last night; they made a difficult and unpopular decision that was the right decision. Good Job!!

Sweetmama46 writes:

Why would the council put this very important subject on the agenda when all the snowird residents have left? How interesting. They know that the VAST MAJORITY is against tolls and yet they go forward instead of saying, wait a minute, we pay taxes to the state, let the state pay for the bridge WITHOUT A TOLL. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU COUNCIL MEMBES? YOU ARE ALL ACTING LIKE A BUNCH OF "WOOSES". Stand up for Marco. Tell them to put us first on the list, fix our bridge and DO NOT CHARGE US A TOLL. When is it Marco's turn to have something done with OUR TAXES? They give our money to everyone else all over the state.

When you were all running for office you said you would listen to the people. Now listen and tell them we do not want tolls. You will ruin our property values, shut businesses down and this will be a depressed ghost town.

hourigan82247 writes:

Sweetmama46... Please use a dictionary when you make a comment. If you don't... someone might think you are ingorant.

themessiah writes:

INGORANT!
:-)

Marco_Guy writes:

We need something we pay for all the time, and before they go away -- an EARMARK!!

hourigan82247 writes:

No it should have been INGORANT? It's a question. You'd think a Messiah would know that! Hmmm , could it be the Messiah is ingorant also?

OldMarcoMan writes:

What a bunch of cry babies!
You cant have Tax Reform and still get everything for 'Free'.
Grow the h*ll up.
This bridge is just the start of of the user fees we are going to see. Where do you think the money for road repair, Medians, Landscaping, Fire protection, Police protection, Parks, Ball Fields and all the other benefits we take for grated comes from?
Just get ready, your 'FREE' ride is over.

tathiede writes:

Why don't we just charge a percentage on the sale of the cars, trucks, vans & boats that are FOR SALE next to the bridge? Or charge the campers for their unlawful overnight stays there? Or charge the jetski owners for using the beach by the bridge as a ramp? Or charge the guy who sells FRESH LOCAL FISH? Lucky for him he doesn't need a store front - he just uses our bridge!

yes writes:

One more silly idea: Why not use the tourist tax millions that currently go to putting new sand on private Hideaway beach each year.

We could float a bond with this money as security. The only downside would be; the millionaires on hideaway would have to pay for thier own beach errosion, caused by thier own environmental blunders. Did I say silly?

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