For 10 years, I’ve been standing right here, looking at the bridge. I am aware of the construction, because it’s all part of the bridge expansion project. It will all be widened; they’ve been talking about it for years. I read a lot. It’s (the Jolley bridge expansion) a big-money project, involving traffic planners, state funding and the efforts of prominent local citizens. The bridge is 35 years old. There are structural integrity concerns. Marco Island has grown. During the season, traffic is congested along 951 in both directions. This has to be addressed. The widening of 951 serves the needs of the Marco Island community.
I am president of the Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association. The widening had to come. It was inevitable, because the traffic has gotten worse every year. My husband, Bedford Biles, and I were here in 1967 when 951 was two lanes, and the bridge was one lane. Eventually, I think it will all go to six lanes, except for the bridge. It will have a new, two-lane span, which we need, to prepare for the future. Everybody knows I was not particularly in favor of six lanes, at first. But, it has to come, so I am looking forward to it.
As general manager of the Yacht Club, the main issue is how will this property be affected. It has been a topic of general discussion since we found out, about six months ago, that plans for expansion, including over the waterway, had begun. I think the traffic situation is going to be a mess, until the configuration is resolved. It’s going to require a lot of consideration, to the extent that we will need a light. But, putting a light right off the bridge does not make sense. So they will have to look at a lot of things, and figure out how people are going to get to and from Marco, but also in and out of this property (Yacht Club). You have people who come to the marina, people who come to the club. There will be a vast amount of traffic to Marco Island, even in the off-season ... Greater access and more traffic coming to Marco Island is good. Making it easier to leave during hurricanes is good, if evacuation is necessary. At five o’clock in mid-season, it will be great. So, there are lots of pros and cons. But, it will be right next to us, and we are all trying to determine how it will affect us. We just don’t know yet.