Budget commission approves $28 million to fund Jolley Bridge expansion

One more step to bringing new bridge, no tolls to Marco

The Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge helps paint a post card photo of the entrance way to Marco Island.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE, Staff // Buy this photo

The Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge helps paint a post card photo of the entrance way to Marco Island.

The Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge helps paint a post card photo of the entrance way to Marco Island.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE, Staff // Buy this photo

The Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge helps paint a post card photo of the entrance way to Marco Island.

— In less time than it takes to drive across the capital city, a panel of lawmakers on Wednesday approved a $3.8 billion package of federal economic stimulus funds that includes $28 million to expand the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge on Marco Island and millions more in road projects for Southwest Florida.

“We’ve cleared one more hurdle. We’re closer to the reality of getting the bridge than we’ve ever been,” said Bill Trotter, Marco city councilor and Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization member.

Without debate, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved the slate of local transportation projects as part of a federal package backers say will help the state recover from the worst recession in decades.

“It’s a great project that Florida Department of Transportation officials have said will create some 800 jobs. It will not only help in the event of hurricane evacuation, but will help with traffic flow and avoiding shut down of the bridge during maintenance,” said Trotter.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes 587 projects that state transportation officials say can be started — some almost immediately — to resurface and widen roads, landscape and provide transportation services from Pensacola to Key West.

In Collier, the federal money would help build a new two-lane bridge next to the existing bridge, making two lanes each way. It also would pay to rehab the current bridge and for the road work necessary for the new bridge.

In late February, the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to keep the $55 million bridge expansion at the top of the list for federal stimulus money. The federal package also includes $5 million for Collier County to use on the Jolley Bridge.

The bridge topped the list of Southwest Florida projects that are ready to go. Some had been deferred in response to state revenue declines.

The act sends $122 million into the five Southwest Florida counties that make up Florida Department of Transportation’s District 1.

The highest single award goes to the Metro Parkway extension in Lee County, a 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 federal panel, which is obligated to review all state spending, was required to approve the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 approved by Congress earlier this year. State and local officials submitted proposals to federal agencies in charge of divvying up the $788 billion stimulus package.

Among the major provisions are $1.9 billion for Medicaid services by ramping up the percentage the federal government pays. Another $571 million is earmarked for public schools and another $5 million for school lunch programs.

Transportation officials told panelists many of the projects are ready to go but were deferred when trust fund revenues fell. Those projects could resume in relatively short order once the paperwork clears over the next several weeks.

“We are very fortunate to get this because several of those other projects may be falling through,” Trotter said.

Final approval for the $28 million bridge project is expected to come through the Federal Highway Administration in the coming weeks.

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

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Comments » 15

matt#206381 writes:

You know what's funny? With all the talk of hundreds of billions of dollars flying around the Country these days, twenty eight million doesn't sound like a whole lot of money all of the sudden.

Great effort, regardless. We definitely need the expansion, and the additional jobs created by the project won't hurt either.

MrBreeze writes:

Write this day down as the end of the Marco Island as you know it. This bridge is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Not only is it not needed it will just further commercialize the island to the point where the small homeowner will be forced out either by high living costs or high tax or just by the fact that their quality of life will change. It does not take a genius to realize that this huge traffic influx onto that little island will not make change. Once the bridge is completed than the marketing will begin. I see the island as being poised to the very rich. I see this as nothing more than the beginning to the end for the little guy, retirees or anyone that is not of money. Just look at whats happening here the City is already setting the island as one big country club. If you have the money to join than your in and the small guy out. This mindset has been going on for the last ten years, although the economic downturn has slowed the process. I see once the economey returns the small guy better find a new place to live. I for one see no good out of all of this bridge project.

August8 writes:

"Matt & MrBreeze"

Good Points, But:

It's not billions of $,It's Trillions $!!!!! A ton of money that does not exist for how many jobs and how much traffic, it's not permanent and the real price tag will be huge.

While I understand MrBreeze, and probably agree to some point, if this is the future of Marco Island the bridge will not be the difference.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

Funny MrBreeze...

The same comments you have made in your post above...were made some 45 years ago when Deltona started developing Marco Island.

deltarome writes:

When "We marco islanders" or the state had to pay for the bridge, there was no justification and we felt the cost exceeded the benefits.
But once the state got the "free" money, it took minutes to approve another total waste of money.
You can't grow an economy by borrowing money and spending it on things that don't provide a rate of return.
We didn't really need the bridge last year and we won't really need it next year or ten years from now.
"We" will be responsible for a large portion of maintenance on both new and old bridge.
Only one to really benefit from this is China and Japan, only countries who really make money the old fashioned way-by doing productive work with their hands and brains and can buy our debt.
All US wants to do is to be entertained, serviced and take it easy.

Imagine how much inconvenience we will have over next two years with all the construction made traffic backups, dust and noise. not to mention petty crime from transient workers.

MrBreeze writes:

Sarabeth, I visited Marco Island for some ten years before I purchased my home in 2002. I fully supported the mindset of the Mackell Brothers and Deltona corp. I believed they were ahead of their time and were of genius. They knew how greed worked that is why the set "deed restrictions" and open space (Tract K) they knew how the future could bring the island to build out. Going forward who would you say are the the new "Deltona's" for the island? The City? Actually it should be the property owners.Did you know that development was far along before the bridge was constructed. Ultimatly it was the goverment that put Deltona out of business and this new bridge will change the island as it is today. History always repeats itself either for the good or not.

August8 writes:

"MrBreeze", Knows what he is talking about!!!

MrBreeze writes:

Mr.Breeze has seen this before. This is why Breeze came to the island to get away from the life of fighting greedy people who had better visions for your land, but too bad they did not own it. People with no agenda, other than wanting a good quality of life, need to get elected and stop this train before it wreaks. I never plan on leaving the island and I hope others share the same interest, not just sitting there hoping realestate values rebound so they can leave. That mindset has to stop and people must stand up for the right things or they will realize after it is to late. The bridge will forever change the island this is a fact write it down.

lauralbi1 writes:

I would love to see any one of you or all of you tell us all how much longer the Bridge is going to last. Rather than speculate or be fortune tellers, please let us know what the original Life expectancy was for the bridge, how much traffic was assumed for this life expectancy, what has been the actual traffic conditions, what have the most recent inspections revealed about the bridge, when do the experts feel that replacement will be required , etc? Emotional outbursts do nobody any good. I do not agree with the bail out and all it's implications and consequences. But it exists. So let's do the research and look at this rationally. In my opinion, this is not about widening as much as it is about restoration without any tolls.
Ed Issler

August8 writes:

"MrBreeze"

A good Marco Neighbor and a logical and informed citizen.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that there are a limited number of islands to inhabit, they generally lend themselves to the afluent and wealthy life style, it's going to happen no matter what.
Now, the bridge will certainly speed up that progress, but it will come anyway.
The real problem is much larger, "Debt", brought on by democrats on a train heading for disaster.
Thats what I worry more about!!!!!!

deltarome writes:

Ed, the inspections show minor problems, nothing that can't be repaired. There is no real retirement date for the bridge as long as it passes inspections. All the talk about design life and cars per hour are just talk. I am an engineer and everything has a design life and economic life. If a barge hit the bridge, it would be closed tomorrow. If nothing unusual happens and the bridge is maintained, it could last over a hundred years. It is a matter of maintenance costs, which are paid by state and local gov'ts vs the feds and state who pay a large portion of bridge replacement costs.
We have marches for tax day but the same are not standing up to say we don't want money wasted on "our" local bridge.

MrBreeze writes:

August8 and Deltarome you are right on target. Ed Issler do not believe every expert as we all know its who is paying the expert for the outcome they want. Bridges do not go bad in a short period of time. They are I-beam and structure steel. If the steel remains coated no rusting or deterioation takes place. The life span is 100 years plus.That bridge being in salt water may need more attention about its coating but also it is in a constant warm climate which is a plus,no freeze thaw factor. Yes, the dept is huge no doubt. Why were the land owners of the island asked if they wanted a bridge or not? This whole thing shows how "control of the island" has taken place. I disagree with afluent and wealthy lifestyle. I want to live in a safe clean friendly community where your portfolio does not deem your quality of life.As we have seen with the foclosed homes there were many "dimestore millionares" living that lifestyle. I think this bridge in the future is a burden the island will regret long after the current potiticans are gone.

August8 writes:

"MrBreeze"

I like that dime store millionare comment, I might like to try that for a while! Wait, you think Obama and his boys would come after me??

MrBreeze writes:

The way things are going, all that will be left are "Dimestore Millionares" from regular downgraded ones.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

LMAO...

Deltona/ The Mackles genius?

They sure did know how greed worked.They bulldozed and dredged every inch of the island...till the Government "shut them down." They chopped the Island up into to small lots...to maximize their profits.They set aside green space because they were mandated to do so...not out of the goodness of their greedy hearts.They "set deed restrictions" because Deltona conducted questionnaires of every prospective buyer...asking what they wanted in a community...in order to sell the mosquito infested Island they had purchased.Deltona then proceeded to destroy the ecological structure of the area...just as they have in many developments they have built elsewhere.

You came to the Island in 1992 ...looking to relocate. I was born and raised on this Island.I'm 57 yrs old now. Let ME tell you what they did...through their "Genius Vision."

BTW...the term is "ten cent millionaires." The term some have referred to in regards to some residents of Marco Island.

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