Residents express concerns about proposed U.S. 41 — Collier Blvd. overpass

A June 2010 file photo with an aerial view of the intersection of U.S. 41 East and Collier Boulevard. Kite Realty Group had marked the property it calls '951 & 41' in the center of this image from its website. Kite Realty Group

A June 2010 file photo with an aerial view of the intersection of U.S. 41 East and Collier Boulevard. Kite Realty Group had marked the property it calls "951 & 41" in the center of this image from its website. Kite Realty Group

Video from NBC-2

— David Smith believes something needs to be done about the intersection at Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41 East.

“I truly believe there is a problem from a safety standpoint,” the Naples resident said. “But the reality of the situation is the thought of an (overpass) is not something we should have. I drive to Marco and I have never had to wait for a traffic light for more than one light.”

Smith was just one of a handful of residents who turned out Tuesday to the county’s Growth Management Division’s public meeting on the re-evaluation of a project development and environmental study for improvements at the East Naples intersection.

The project, which is being developed in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation will make improvements about a quarter-mile in each direction on both U.S. 41 East and the Collier Boulevard segment north of Marco Island.

The hearing gave the public the opportunity to give input on the improvements that could be designed and constructed at the intersection, which is considered a primary access point in the county.

The intersection was part of a 2008 DOT project development and environmental study. At the time, DOT recommended that the county make improvements at the current ground level of the road, with a six-lane divided highway on U.S. 41.

However, if those ground-level improvements were made, the intersection would be congested with substantial delays by 2024.

After those findings were made public, the county’s Growth Management Division studied the intersection to re-evaluate alternatives proposed by the study.

County officials then determined that an overpass, constructed in two phases, was the best solution. Collier County government built its first overpass several years ago at Golden Gate Parkway and Airport-Pulling Road.

A modified, ground-level improvement would maintain an acceptable level of service through 2025 while an overpass would provide an acceptable level of service beyond 2035.

Smith said he believes any plans for an overpass have been based on growth data that was collected when the county was growing.

“The growth now is zero,” he said.

The intersection has a history of multiple sideswiped collisions because of the intersection’s skew and sight distance, county officials said. Connie Deane, the community liaison for the Growth Management Division, said the intersection had 95 accidents between 2007 and 2009.

She said the ground-level improvements preferred by the county would make the intersection safer. The county’s proposed improvements to the state plan would also take the project cost from $14.1 million to $18.8 million. Adding an overpass would cost $43.2 million.

Gerry Campkin, the chairman of the Lely Community Development District, said he liked the possibility of a feeder road from Collier Boulevard that would allow motorists to head towards downtown Naples on U.S. 41 without having to stop at the light.

“I am sure many of the major problems could be solved if you adjusted the timers on the lights at that intersection,” he said.

Will Kriz, who lives in the Eagle Creek neighborhood, said he has no objection to the county’s proposed ground-level improvements, but spoke out against the overpass.

“I think there will be increased difficulty getting in and out of Eagle Creek,” he said. “Once the overpass is in with nothing to stop traffic, we won’t have a prayer getting out.”

But just because an overpass is planned, doesn’t mean one will be built, Senior Project Manager Marlene Mesam said.

“We are building a footprint for the future,” she said. “But obviously, we would have to have the traffic to support an overpass. And the funding.”

The county will accept comments on the plans for the intersection through Oct. 4. Comments can be directed to Connie Deane at 2885 S. Horseshoe Drive, Naples, FL 34104 or via the project’s website at www.colliergov.net/US41-951Project.

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Comments » 3

deltarome writes:

The final paragraph says all i need to hear. We don't have the traffic flow to justify it and we don't have a source of funding.
enforce speed limits and running red lights and the traffic accidents will drop drastically.

JohninMarco writes:

I must say their is not a car insight after 9pm. I can not see spending millions on this.

deltarome writes:

If like the golden gate parkway bridge over airport pulling, it will take two years to build and be a total mess in mean time. Just adjust the lights for seasonal traffic and enforce present laws. Anything more is a total waste of money we don't have-just a make work project.

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