Construction on the 7.5-mile stretch on Collier Boulevard, between U.S. 41 and Davis Boulevard, is expected to be complete by November.
Connie Deane, community liaison for the Collier County transportation services division, said the $10 million project isn’t just a road widening.
In addition to widening from four to six lanes of traffic on Collier Boulevard, as part of the Collier Boulevard widening improvement project, the contract also involves street lighting, sidewalks, road bike lanes and 10-foot multi-roadways on the canal side of the street. The project began in October 2007.
“Most of these major road projects take about two years to complete,” Deane said. “It’s not just what you do above ground, but also below ground.”
The trick, Deane said, is keeping the traffic flowing during construction, especially during peak driving hours.
“I think we’re moving pretty well. We’ve got a lot of paving going on. People need to be reminded to be cautious and aware,” Deane said.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputies said the stretch of road is a constant focus for them in enforcing speed, and the Florida Highway Patrol also scouts the area for violators.
Lt. Chris Miller, with the Florida Highway Patrol, told drivers to first and foremost reduce speed when going into construction areas.
“Watch out for construction workers entering the roadways and pay attention to the signs,” Miller said.
The road project is part of several major capital improvement projects the county fought for, after some inactivity in the early 90s for roadwork. According to Deane, the general feeling amongst prior county commissioners seemed to be “if we don’t build it, they won’t come.” Well, they still came, Deane said.
In 2000, the county formed their own transportation division to get road projects and traffic flow moving.
“We started going gangbusters with trying to catch up,” Deane said.
In the future, the county would like to widen the rest of Collier Blvd., north of Davis Boulevard. It all ready went from two-lanes to six-lanes from Golden Gate Boulevard to Immokalee Road, but Deane would like to widen the middle section, too.
“We don’t have the same funding sources we had, but we’re still designing and just holding those designs until funding is available,” Deane said.