Jolley Bridge in line for $28 million in federal stimulus money

Federal stimulus dollars within reach to expand Island’s entryway

An aerial view of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge linking Marco island with the mainland. The replacement of the bridge has been an island priority for years, but funding options were unclear and a toll option the subject of much debate throughout 2008. 
Roger LaLonde/Staff

Photo by ROGER LALONDE, Staff // Buy this photo

An aerial view of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge linking Marco island with the mainland. The replacement of the bridge has been an island priority for years, but funding options were unclear and a toll option the subject of much debate throughout 2008. Roger LaLonde/Staff

An aerial view of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge linking Marco island with the mainland. The replacement of the bridge has been an island priority for years, but funding options were unclear and a toll option the subject of much debate throughout 2008. 
Roger LaLonde/Staff

Photo by ROGER LALONDE, Staff // Buy this photo

An aerial view of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge linking Marco island with the mainland. The replacement of the bridge has been an island priority for years, but funding options were unclear and a toll option the subject of much debate throughout 2008. Roger LaLonde/Staff

Marco politicians work to avoid tolling a new one-span Jolley Bridge. Collier County Transportation Administrator Norman Feeder, left, speaks with Marco Island City Council Chairman Bill Trotter and Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala of the MPO board, following a February meeting which kept the Jolley Bridge as the top Collier County transportation project priority to receive stimulus package dollars. As of April, the bridge is now looking to top the state list.
Kelly Farrell/ Staff

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

Marco politicians work to avoid tolling a new one-span Jolley Bridge. Collier County Transportation Administrator Norman Feeder, left, speaks with Marco Island City Council Chairman Bill Trotter and Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala of the MPO board, following a February meeting which kept the Jolley Bridge as the top Collier County transportation project priority to receive stimulus package dollars. As of April, the bridge is now looking to top the state list. Kelly Farrell/ Staff

— Arriving on Marco Island is going to get a lot easier thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Jolley Bridge that leads to the island is in line for more than $28 million in stimulus funding, assuming a project list released by Gov. Charlie Crist’s office Thursday is approved by the Legislature later this month.

The money would build a new two-lane bridge next to the existing bridge, making two lanes each way. It also would pay for the road work necessary for the new bridge.

Marco Island City Council Chairman William Trotter said it was great news.

Trotter said it was wonderful for both Marco Island residents and visitors to the island.

Apart from resolving traffic congestion during high season and rush hour, the bridge is a top health and safety concern because it’s rated to sustain Category 3 hurricanes and it’s a major evacuation route. In addition, the current bridge has no emergency lane.

A new bridge would be able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and would contain a break-down lane in each direction to help avoid delays caused by traffic accidents and facilitate access by emergency vehicles.

In addition, Trotter said the current bridge would continue to be maintained by the state.

“I think this was our last chance to get a bridge without having a toll,” Trotter said.

In late February, the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to keep the $55 million expansion of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge at the top of the list for federal stimulus money. The original plan was to tear down the existing bridge and build two new bridges, each having two lanes.

At that meeting Trotter made a recommendation to Florida Department of Transportation officials that if the bridge couldn’t receive full funding for two new bridges then one new bridge could be built and the old bridge rehabilitated.

Knowing that stimulus money would be limited, Debbie Tower, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation, said FDOT worked with the Collier MPO, local staff and other transportation partners to submit a modified proposal.

The new $28 million project would build a new parallel span with two lanes adjacent to the existing bridge and rehabilitate the existing bridge.

“The project’s intent is to add capacity to the bridge,” Tower said.

If funding is received, it would cover the proposed new bridge and maintenance.

Trotter said FDOT was hoping for low bids so that the bridge could include a sidewalk.

“I hope it’s enough to do the job properly,” said Keith Dameron, an advocate for the Marco Island bridge expansion

Federal stimulus money will also help move traffic in south Lee County, but it will be on a brand new Metro Parkway extension, not on U.S. 41.

The ARRA funding was announced by the state Thursday. It sends $122 million into the five southwest Florida counties that make up District 1.

“We’re ready,” said local FDOT spokeswoman Debbie Tower. “Shovel-ready is the key. Shovel-ready is a critical component. We’re looking forward to very competitive bids.”

The biggest local winner is Metro, a new four-lane road from Alico Road north to Six Mile Cypress Parkway. The shovel-ready job gets the $62 million it needs for construction.

The Metro project might have begun five years ago, but the market was radically different then. FDOT bid the project in 2004 expecting to pay around $39 million. The low bid came in at $56 million. Metro has been on local road project lists since at least the late 1990s.

Both the big local projects were awarded federal funding at the state and local levels. The Metro project includes $5 million awarded to Lee County and the Jolley Bridge includes just under $5.6 million that went to Collier.

A handful of smaller projects made it onto the local list in Lee County.

Adding paved shoulders to Buckingham Road between State Road 82 and Neal Road will cost $800,000. A new left turn lane where Daniels Parkway meets Bell Tower road will cost $600,000.

Adding a bike lane to Summerlin Road where it runs through the Sanibel Causeway toll plaza — which includes 2.1 miles of bike lane — will cost $535,969. A new dual left turn lane at Sunshine and Lee boulevards in Lehigh Acres will cost $500,000. Building a new left turn lane at Homestead Road and Milwaukee Boulevard, also in Lehigh, will cost $100,000.

Lee County transportation director Scott Gilbertson said that the six-laning of the last remaining four-lane stretch of U.S. 41 between Fort Myers and Naples may be a higher priority than Metro, but it’s not shovel-ready.

That project would widen 41 between Corkscrew Road and San Carlos Park. Design and permitting work for a drainage pond on the old Boomer Estate property south of the Koreshan State Historic Site is not yet complete, so it was kept off the list.

Gilbertson said that the Metro project will take traffic off 41, but all the work — and all the congestion relief — will be north of Alico.

“Metro will provide an alternative for traffic all the way through Fort Myers,” he said. “This southern leg will make it much more expedient to get on Metro.”

In fact when the state reconfigured Alico Road just last year it did so allowing for the future Metro work.

Tower said the department will be ready to bid the projects as soon as the Legislature and then the Federal Highway Administration approves.

“Once we have the final go-ahead we’ll assemble the bid packages and get them to Tallahassee,” she said. “We intend to move as quickly as we can.”

See the full list of Florida's recommended transportation projects in the sidebar to the left found on the FDOT Web site.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 18

marcoislandres writes:

That's great news, I just hope I live long enough to one day see a Marco Island that is not constantly under construction.

happy6 writes:

shhhhh....don't tell rony joel...he'll grab that money and build a new facilities building.

lauralbi1 writes:

shadow: You really need to get a life. The best news and you figure out a way to make a silly comment. Haven't you learned yet that we are just not interested. You really should prescribe to the theory of be careful what you wish for. You could have someone like Bill McMullan watching and spending your money.
Ed Issler

lauralbi1 writes:

Thank you Bill and Mike for your tireless efforts. This is really great news and we have you to thank. The majority of us appreciate what you have done.
Ed Issler

ed34145 writes:

A big THANK YOU to Bill Trotter!

matt#206381 writes:

God bless 'em. The toll controversy guaranteed a long delay in the absence of another solution.

And not only is it a timely solution to our problem, but this is also the exact scenario for which the funds were intended. Get something going, create jobs, and at the same time invest in infrastructure.

Great news all around.

joetf404 writes:

There wouldn't be such a traffic problem if people had the courtesy to merge properly and not rush up the wrong lane and cut everyone off.

rideon writes:

The fact that Summerlin through the Sanibel causeway had a bike lane project approved (because the need was there and it enhances safety) points to the fact that NOW is the time to include at least a designated bike lane on Marco's bridge, and preferably a bike/ped lane completely separated from the motor vehicle lanes.
Marco Island is doing a great job on bike paths and bike lanes, but we need to be able to safely ride to and from Marco as well!

happy6 writes:

hey ed...are you s-----? i did not say anything about the bridge news being BAD...i merely said joel will take the money and run for a new building...and if you think he won't you are double s-----!...you need to get a life...maybe talk to your family about the dementia you are developing.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Geez, How fast can you elbow your way to the teat of FREE Federal Money.
Suckle quickly because your excited over ether.
When it was YOU that had to pay for it the whole idea out of the question frivolous! Now a rich uncle is playing and your excited.
How cheap your sell yourself, because NOTHING is free.

waterday writes:

$28 million dollar project.. this will not be enough for the new bridge.. watch Marco Island residents very carefuly this project.. will be another item that will eventually come out of your pockets.. NOTHING is free.. and this will not be. Marco City is in business to make money while managing and keeping our City beautiful.. we live on a very expensive Mark-up Island.. watch the results many years from now.

sunnycity writes:

Does this mean we get the $1M they blew on the toll study back?

MrBreeze writes:

I think you people are missing the point. I thought the old bridge was not worth saving. Furthermore, now that the money is thought to be free the old bridge can be used. I know if that little of a delay at peak times is a bother than do not live on an island. The bridge will just bring more congestion to Collier Blvd. and in the future do not be surprised if a widening project will be next. I see the island getting more congested by this. Wake up people it is no gift.

lauralbi1 writes:

MrBreeze: There is a widening in this concept. The original plan came about when the full time population of Marco got above a certain amount of people. It was at that time that the Evacuation plans called for a 4 lane Collier Blvd and a 4 lane bridge off of Marco. I need to do the research, as do you, but I believe the plan calls for a new 2 lane bridge, or additional 2 lanes to the existing bridge, totalling 4 lanes. Let's both check and become more knowldgable on the subject.
Ed Issler

deltarome writes:

The plan is for the new bridge to have two auto lanes plus a breakdown lane, all in same direction. Existing bridge will stay as two lanes in same direction.
The new bridge is not needed. Spending borrowed or printed money on it will not make our economy stronger or residents here, any safer. By the time it is built, our economy will already be recovering. Adding more debt or printing money will just lead to more inflation, which is like a tax on those who live on a fixed income.
Meanwhile, Marco residents will have to put up with more congestion, dirt, noise, added contractor traffic, and more political controversey. The existing bridge will just take a beating from all the construction trucks carrying materials. Maint on the existing bridge is not funded by anyone due to shortage of funds.
Investing in infrastructure puts people to work temporarily, kind of like a drug gives you a temporary high and then back to reality but now you are poorer.

MrBreeze writes:

Bravo Deltarome, I could have not said it better. If the old bridge costs so much in legacy repairs now,than what will be the annual costs to maintain both structures and who will pay the bill? I see this as one day being placed on the tax burden of the residents of the island or in the form of a toll with really no real value to the taxpayer of Marco Island. Furthermore, I see no reason if it takes me longer to exit or enter the Island as the problem is the 4 lanes leading up to the bridge where some people think they need to be there first. I see the commercial and tourist ventures wanting this but as a homeowner I feel it is not my best interest to have such a massive crossing for such a small island.

happy6 writes:

once again....ED ISSLER is in the dark....he knows what the deal is...when we have an evacuation ordr there are not 30,000 residents on the island....two lanes will leave the island flowing into 4 lanes or 8 if they contra flow....come on ed...how much research do you need?

lauralbi1 writes:

I guess only "The Shadow Knows" all the answers. I plan on doing the research and finding out the details of the bridge. I actually agree with Deltarome in concept. But, this is a situation where someone will spend the money so why not us. I do not promote standing on principal to our Community's detriment.

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