NAPLES — As construction continues to move ahead on several Collier County roads, transportation officials are prepared for the 2011 hurricane season.
“The Growth Management Division has staff, equipment and contractors ready to deal with the upcoming hurricane season,” said Connie Deane, community liaison for the county’s Growth Management Division. “Property owners and tenants are asked to assist with keeping drainage structures, swales, ditches and grates on their property clear of debris.”
When county staff is advised that a hurricane is approaching, equipment at all road construction projects is secured, Deane wrote in an email.
In addition, all lanes that can be opened to motorists are made available, she added.
So, if a road-widening project had two through lanes available in both directions prior to the start of the road-widening project, then those two through lanes in both directions will be made available during an evacuation.
If an additional lane has been constructed and is possible to open, then it too will be made available for use – it may not have all layers of asphalt completed but if deemed usable, then it may be opened, Deane wrote.
Collier County’s road maintenance crews have equipment stationed around the county and will use it to clear roads and debris as soon as possible after a storm.
The first priority is to allow access for emergency vehicles to areas needing help, Deane said.
With any major windstorm, there is the potential for downed power lines, hazards from fallen trees and debris, missing traffic control signs, including stop signs, as well as damage to roads.
People are urged to avoid roads that are under water. If you cannot see the pavement markings or the edge of pavement, it is best not to risk driving into deep water, Deane said.
If an intersection is dark, meaning all traffic signals are damaged, missing or without power, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. However, if drivers approach a signalized intersection where the signal is in flash mode, drivers approaching from the flashing yellow side should proceed with caution and those approaching from the flashing red side need to treat the situation as a stop sign.
Warning and information signs may be missing and streetlights may not be working.
State law requires that motorists on side roads must stop before entering a major roadway, whether a stop sign is present or not.
The public is advised to stay tuned to radio and TV reports, if possible, for updates before venturing out.
Collier County’s government access station is on channel 97 for Comcast customers.
These roads will be under construction in Collier County during hurricane season 2011:
■ Oil Well Road (Immokalee Road to Everglades Boulevard and Oil Well Grade Road to Ave Maria Boulevard). This 7-mile project calls for widening the two-lane road to four lanes for the portion from Immokalee Road to just west of Everglades Boulevard (approximately 3 miles) and to six lanes from Oil Well Grade Road to Ave Maria Boulevard (approximately 4 miles).
The middle segment from Everglades Boulevard to Oil Well Grade Road and the remainder of the western section from east of Ave Maria Boulevard to east of Camp Keais Road has been designed for widening and will be placed in the construction work program as money becomes available.
Improvements include sidewalks, new traffic signals, a new water main and a new sewer force main plus a pathway. Other improvements to Oil Well Road will include the replacement of existing bridge structures, intersection and access improvements, and drainage and stormwater management improvements. This project began in February 2010 and is scheduled for completion by spring 2012.
■ Collier Boulevard from Davis Boulevard to the Golden Gate Main Canal has been merged with a project designed by the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) on Davis Boulevard from west of Radio Road to Collier Boulevard.
The Collier Boulevard portion is a mile long and the project calls for widening the four-lane road to eight lanes. The project includes on-road bike lanes on each side of the roadway and the continuation of a 10-foot multi-use pathway. The project also includes capacity improvements to approximately a quarter mile of Beck Boulevard as well as the northbound Interstate 75 off-ramp.
The Davis Boulevard portion is approximately three-quarters of a mile. Plans include building a variable four- to six-lane roadway divided by a median with sidewalk and on-road bike lanes on each side of the roadway. Collier County government is providing the construction money for the Davis Boulevard portion with an agreement from DOT to provide reimbursement starting in fiscal 2012. Construction is expected to begin in late summer-early fall of 2011 and take about 2 1/2 years to complete.
There also are projects on DOT’s work list in Collier County this hurricane season:
■ Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge. Construction is under way to build a new two-lane bridge adjacent to the existing bridge. Crews are continuing construction of the new structure and deck. Traffic at the north side of the bridge is shifted to the west side of the roadway, allowing crews to perform road work on the east side of the bridge. Motorists should expect intermittent lane closures. This project is expected to be completed this fall.
■ State Road 29. From north of I-75 to north of Oil Well Road (approximately 9 miles). This project resurfaces the roadway, extends turn lanes and includes shoulder, guard rail, and drainage work. Motorists should expect intermittent lane closures. Work is expected to be completed this summer.
■ U.S. 41. West and east of Turner River Road (near Bass Lake Road within Big Cypress National Preserve). Starting this fall, crews will install a Roadside Animal Detection System (RADS) along the roadway. RADS will warn motorists to slow down when a large animal, like a panther, is close to the road. Panther zone advisory signs also will be in place. The project includes installation of speed feedback signs (one in each direction). Flashing lights on signs will help alert motorists to the panther zone and speed feedback signs will advise motorists to slow down if they are traveling above the posted speed limit. The project is expected to be completed in December 2011.
The following are DOT projects to be bid this summer with start dates possible this fall in Collier County:
■ I-75 from Collier Boulevard north into Manatee County. This project will install interstate shield pavement markings on the highway surface near interchanges to help drivers select the proper lane for their travels in the area – the through lane or the lane leading to exit ramps.
■ I-75/Collier Boulevard interchange improvements. This project resurfaces and widens ramps.
■ I-75/Alligator Alley. Recreational access area at mile marker 49 (about three miles west of the Collier-Broward county line). This project will build a parking lot with 75 spaces, a boat ramp to the L-2 canal, access to trailheads in Big Cypress National Preserve, lighting, and off/on ramps to I-75.
■ State Road 29. From north of 9th Street to north of County Road 29-A. This project will resurface the roadway.