Over a barrel: Bonita Beach Road widening complete, lanes opened

Lexey Swall/Staff 
 The A-frame building surrounded by road construction at the southeast corner of Old 41 and Bonita Beach roads has gone through many businesses. It was once Three Sisters Restaurant, a Mexican eatery and is currently Trackside Donuts and Cafe.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Lexey Swall/Staff The A-frame building surrounded by road construction at the southeast corner of Old 41 and Bonita Beach roads has gone through many businesses. It was once Three Sisters Restaurant, a Mexican eatery and is currently Trackside Donuts and Cafe.

— The surface is smoother and wider with the completion of a segment of Bonita Beach Road, but business owners say that getting into their shops is no easier than it was before the project’s completion.

Many business owners along the widened stretch from just west of Imperial Parkway to Old 41 Road said they weren’t sure the expansion from four lanes to six lanes — with three lanes now in each direction — was needed or even a good idea.

Even so, the lack of construction barrels outside their businesses is a welcome change, considering the approximately $4 million project began in fall 2011.

“The only thing that’s affected my business is they didn’t put a driveway in for me. People like my doughnuts, so they make the effort to get here,” said Mike Alansky, owner of Trackside Donuts and Café, on the southeast side of the intersection of Old 41 and Bonita Beach roads.

Alansky and many other business owners said they’d hoped for more turn lanes and better access to their businesses to come out of the project, a cost split evenly by Bonita Springs and Lee County governments.

“I don’t understand why we can’t get one. We plan on being here awhile. I guess because we’re just the little guy,” he said. “Our niche is our doughnuts. We have doughnuts like no place within 100 miles that make people go out of their way for them. Thank God for that.”

Lisa Meadows, office manager at Comprehensive Dentistry in the Pine Haven Plaza east of Old 41 Road, said she’d hoped for a left-turn lane in and out of the plaza, but also wondered if it would be too dangerous for people crossing three lanes of traffic.

“It’s smoother and prettier anyway and we’re blessed our patients want to be here. I know there are two extra lanes out there, but it feels the same coming and going,” Meadows said.

“People still have to make a U-turn down at the dog track,” she said of the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track. “It’s actually just back where it started now that it’s done.”

Meadows questioned the immediate need for the extra lanes.

“Maybe everyone is assuming the dog track will get its slots and that will increase traffic. Everything else was three lanes except this little stretch, so I guess it makes sense,” she said.

Some merchants said they’re not pleased, but didn’t want to make negative comments that might reflect poorly on their businesses.

Their main concerns are that traffic now goes much faster than before on Bonita Beach Road nearing Imperial Parkway, making it unsafe to turn in and out of businesses.

The posted speed limit as of Monday heading east was 45 mph and headed west was still 35 mph, as it was during construction. Some business owners said traffic flows much faster than either posted speed.

Cindy Hall, owner of Classic Title Services located in Oak Creek Crossing plaza, said the construction didn’t affect her business in terms of clients getting in and out. The Internet and phone disturbances that occurred for several months during construction were a nuisance, but overall she’s happy.

“We’re extremely pleased with the finished product,” Hall said.

Don Ballo of Ballo & Associates Insurance Inc., shares a building with Hall and said it did affect his clients some and that he had hoped for a turn lane.

“Now you have to pass us and go four blocks to do a U-turn. We have a lot of senior citizen clients and it’s hard for them to do a U-turn,” Ballo said.

Ginny Wiser, owner of the Beauty and Massage School in Pine Haven Plaza, said she hopes it’s safer now, but the past two years of construction put a significant damper on her business and made getting in and out unsafe.

Wiser also had hoped for a turn lane to go left into and out of her plaza.

“There were construction barrels everywhere with no directional signage, so you could barely get in and out of here. We didn’t have much choice or say on whether or not this was needed. We’re just glad it’s done,” Wiser said.

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