Marco Island Planning Board defers decision on bypass for Smokehouse Bay Bridge

City officials including Councilors Amadeo Petricca, left, Bob Brown, interim City Manager Gill Polanco, Public Works Director Tim Pinter, and Councilor Larry Sacher follow the discussion. Marco Island's Planning Board met Friday, taking up beach access, diverting trucks and water system issues. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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City officials including Councilors Amadeo Petricca, left, Bob Brown, interim City Manager Gill Polanco, Public Works Director Tim Pinter, and Councilor Larry Sacher follow the discussion. Marco Island's Planning Board met Friday, taking up beach access, diverting trucks and water system issues. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Charlette Roman, the newest member, right, shares a lighthearted moment with the board. Marco Island's Planning Board met Friday, taking up beach access, diverting trucks and water system issues. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Charlette Roman, the newest member, right, shares a lighthearted moment with the board. Marco Island's Planning Board met Friday, taking up beach access, diverting trucks and water system issues. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Monte Lazarus said he needed more information. The newly-minted vice chairman of the City of Marco Island Planning Board, stepping up to fill the vacancy created by former member Bob Brown being appointed to City Council, indicated at the Planning Board meeting Friday morning he was not happy not knowing the impact of diverting truck traffic away from the Smokehouse Bay Bridge.

“We asked for analysis, and we didn’t get any,” said Lazarus, as Public Works Director Tim Pinter took his accustomed position, standing in the hot seat and acting as a lightning rod for city officials’ frustration with the progress, or lack of same, on the Smokehouse Bay Bridge work. After talking about the issue for five years, and spending something like a million dollars, the city fathers are still in the “talking about it” phase of any repair or replacement.

There is “no empirical data available,” Pinter told the board, to determine definitively whether the structure is safe, and whether it would benefit from having heavy trucks diverted around it until the city determines how to bolster the span. “The documents do not support removal of truck traffic,” he said, citing consultant studies and findings from state DOT inspections.

It is “intuitive,” said Pinter, that “if you remove trucks, you will extend the life of the bridge,” and help maintain it “a little longer,” but to know for sure would require a traffic impact study, meaning the hiring of a consultant, and more dollars expended.

“We have received letters totally in opposition” to the proposed alternate route, he said, uniformly from residents who live along the path the trucks would take. That would involve leaving Collier Blvd. at Bald Eagle Drive, and heading south to San Marco Road. Both those streets, Pinter pointed out, were designed more for residential traffic, in contrast to the more heavily constructed Collier Blvd., and would therefore be more liable to incur structural damage from truck traffic, apart from considerations of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, including schoolchildren, along the roads.

The issue drew a respectable crowd to council chambers for the meeting, which mostly dissipated after discussion of truck routes ended. Councilors Amadeo Petricca, Ken Honecker, Larry Sacher, and former planning board member Bob Brown all sat in, along with interim City Manager Gill Polanco.

“What’s a truck?” asked Planning Board Chairman Jack Patterson, raising the question of what the threshold for the diversion would be. This raised another issue, that enforcement of the detour would require additional police presence.

Paul Meyer, a resident of San Marco Road, said “the bridge is doing its job right now. The city is way out of line trying to push traffic down my road” rather than the current path. Board member Bill Trotter moved the Planning Board table the discussion until City Council decides whether to spend the dollars for a study, and the motion passed 6-1, with member Irv Povlow dissenting.

The Planning Board also discussed issues including parking concerning Tigertail Beach. When city planner Joe Irvin, taking the board through the discussion, mentioned placing signs as far away as I-75 to alert motorists to the beach, Trotter demurred.

“The intent is not to pull people off I-75. We want to direct people who are coming here” anyway to Tigertail and away from the island’s other, more crowded beaches and beach parking lots, he said. “Otherwise, all we’re doing is making Marco Island a destination, for Southwest Florida and Southeast Florida. We do not want anything on the other side of the Jolley Bridge.”

Povlow reported the Tigertail Beach parking attendant had told him that “because of what we’ve done at South Beach, there’s much more activity at Tigertail.”

The point, said Trotter, is that the East Naples area will see 20,000 additional residents in the next 10 years, Marco needs to upgrade its facilities, and Collier County should help.

“They have millions of dollars in their pockets from our development, and we’re not getting anything from it,” he said. Tigertail Beach, a county facility, should be brought up at least to the standard of the paddlecraft park near Isles of Capri, he said. Members agreed county residents should be able to get at least temporary beach parking passes, good for county facilities, at those locations with proof of residence.

The board also heard an update of the city’s 10-year water supply facilities work plan, as required by state law. Utilities general manager Jeff Poteet, sipping a cup of tap water, which he proclaimed delicious, took the members through an exposition of how and where Marco Island gets its water. With the assurance that typos and arithmetic errors would be reviewed and corrected, the board voted 7-0 to pass the report along to City Council.

The Planning Board is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 1.

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Comments » 7

happy6 writes:

OMG montel....no way..... please!!!!!

26yearsonmarco writes:

Does he still have his Obamee sticker on his bumper???

2themoon writes:

Monty is like a skin rash that you just cant get rid of

Konfuzius writes:

Rest this project. The bridge is still working good.

RayPray writes:

in response to 2themoon:

Monty is like a skin rash that you just cant get rid of

Who says there's no diversity in island government?

Picking each other over and over and over again, you have old white guys with grey hair, old white guys with orange hair, and old white guys with no hair....

(Amazingly, even Rony Joel is back on the Code Nazi Enforcement Board!!!)

ohbrther writes:

Have any one of you been under that bridge lately??? I think not, because if you had a boat and had to go under that bridge you can see how badly the seawalls need to be replaced, the cracks in the seawalls keep getting bigger and bigger ...and guess what, when the seawalls fail, it will be a real BIG problem...for everyone...we need that bridge replaced sooner than what the city bumpkins think. As for diverting traffic, gee San Marco might get a little more traffic....so what, deal with it like everyone else does, you chose to live on a main drag so you don't get a whole lot of sympathy from too many people especially if you are a seasonal resident.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to ohbrther:

Have any one of you been under that bridge lately??? I think not, because if you had a boat and had to go under that bridge you can see how badly the seawalls need to be replaced, the cracks in the seawalls keep getting bigger and bigger ...and guess what, when the seawalls fail, it will be a real BIG problem...for everyone...we need that bridge replaced sooner than what the city bumpkins think. As for diverting traffic, gee San Marco might get a little more traffic....so what, deal with it like everyone else does, you chose to live on a main drag so you don't get a whole lot of sympathy from too many people especially if you are a seasonal resident.

Every bridge even new bridges looking terrible under the upside. If that what you describe is seriously, the local government has to shut down the bridge. Or is the Army Corps of Engineers in charge? Maybe the construction traffic for the new Marriott hotel is a problem. But they can take the detour over San Marco. If that is on Sunday to noisy they can do their Sunday service of the Catholics on the pubic beach. Think big. This are solutions Marco Island citizens like.

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