If you go
A public meeting to discuss ways to safely get pedestrians and bicyclists through the Interstate 75 at Immokalee Road interchange is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Immokalee Road I-75 Pathway Feasibility Study Alternatives Public Workshop will take place at Hodges University on Northbrooke Drive, just up Immokalee Road from the interchange.
NAPLES — Getting through the Interstate 75 interchange at Immokalee Road can be tough enough if you’re driving a car. On foot or on a bicycle, it’s that much harder, not to mention dangerous.
Earlier this year, Collier County commissioners agreed to a $315,000 study to look at ways to make the intersection safer on Immokalee Road. Now, the public is about to get a look at some options.
County staff is hoping to hear from the public during a workshop from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday on some proposed alternatives. The session is at Hodges University on Northbrooke Drive, just up Immokalee Road from the interchange.
Representatives from the Collier County Transportation Planning Department will be on hand to go over the various schemes, including adding a sidewalk and-or bike path under the interstate, said Connie Deane, community liaison for Collier County Growth Management.
“It’s an open format presentation,” Deane said. “No one is standing there saying this is what we’ve got. This is just to show lines on paper, and get input on alternatives.”
Currently, pedestrians and cyclists on the north side of Immokalee Road must cross over to the south side to get past the I-75 interchange. The intersection presents a real danger to them, said Joe Bonness of the Naples Pathways Coalition, an advocacy group for alternative transportation.
The I-75 crossing, he said, represents a major bottleneck in a corridor for non-vehicular traffic.
“This is the missing link,” Bonness said. “We have a greenway from Immokalee (Road) to U.S. 41. This is the last piece that makes it complete.”
The greenway path runs on the north side of Immokalee Road, forcing those traveling along the pathway from Immokalee to U.S. 41 to cross and re-cross six to eight lanes of traffic is hazardous to all, he said.
Enhancements for vehicular traffic at the intersection took the space that cyclists and pedestrians could use, Deane said.
“The iROX project that was just finished widening I-75 to six lanes also added lanes under 75,” she said. “Now there’s not enough right of way for a pathway.”
One additional alternative scheme has been floated by Bonness, who also is a member of the county’s Pathways Advisory Committee.
While the two schemes being presented by the county staff send pedestrians and bikers under the interstate alongside Immokalee Road, Bonness’ plan routes them a half-mile away under a different bridge.
“We stay on the north side of the canal, and cross under I-75 at Rock Creek,” he said. “I thought I had a pretty good plan.”
Bonness, who owns a paving company, agreed it is ironic for someone with his day job to spend so much time working on alternative transportation schemes.
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“We can’t always build our way out of gridlock by putting down more roads,” he said.
The meeting and public input are part of the study commissioned by county leaders on pathway possibilities. AIM Engineering & Surveying, based in Lee County, is the contractor hired to do the survey. The firm previously did feasibility studies in 2007 for the design of the Immokalee Road interchange at I-75.
The pathways study is slated to cost about $315,000, with the money coming from the Florida Department of Transportation. Study completion and final design plans are expected in fall 2012. Should the work go ahead, the pathway through the intersection has preliminary construction estimates of “a little over $2 million,” Deane said.
To attend the workshop, go to Hodges University, Science and Technology Building, Lecture Hall (first building on left when turning onto the campus), 2655 Northbrooke Drive, Naples. Forms will be available for members of the public to express opinions on the pathway and the possible alternatives.
The interchange falls at the boundary between the districts of Commissioners Tom Henning and Georgia Hiller. Commissioners may be present for the workshop, Deane said, but neither commissioner’s office confirmed they would be on hand. No additional meetings on the project have been scheduled, Deane said.