This past Friday, the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) for Collier County, unanimously voted to make the SS Jolley Bridge their top priority for Federal Stimulus Plan funding. Using Federal funds to build the new bridge would result in no cost to our community.
In making that motion to move the bridge to the top of the list, I emphasized the importance of this bridge to Marco Island as a hurricane evacuation route and that the current bridge is only rated to withstand a category 3 hurricane — where a new bridge would be rated for a category 5, as stated by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
These priorities for the stimulus plan will be discussed again and adopted at a special meeting of the MPO at 2 p.m., today (Friday), at the Naples City Hall Council Chambers, 735 Eighth Street South. It is important for as many of our residents as possible to attend that meeting and speak about the importance of this project.
In addition, you can provide comments to the MPO prior to this meeting by logging onto the City’s Web site, cityofmarcoisland.com. On the front page, just above the Hot Topics Section, you can click on the link labeled, “Provide Feedback to the Collier County MPO.”
Residents, visitors, business owners, and members of the work force on Marco Island can submit their comments about the bridge. Comment forms are also located at City Hall, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.
If you have any problems, Lisa Douglass, the City’s Information Coordinator on 389-5037, can help you.
Additional reasons for listing this as a top priority, based on FDOT information, are as follows:
- The current bridge is nearing the end of its design life, and the new bridge will last 75 years.
- The bridge’s rating has decreased significantly in recent years with significant scouring at the base.
- The annual average traffic count is around 29,000 vehicles a day when it was designed for only 10,000.
- The current bridge has no breakdown lanes, where the new span(s) would have one for each traffic lane.
- Road deck replacement, a likely future maintenance requirement, would shut the bridge down for several months — causing a severe economic hardship and reduce access to healthcare facilities.
- The State has already spent over $3 million dollars to design the bridge — which will be wasted if it is not started soon.
In conclusion, I view this opportunity as Marco Island’s “last best chance” to get a new bridge without having a toll imposed — so please support this effort.