MARCO ISLAND — The Collier County Board of County Commissioners wants to know why the City of Marco Island has not repaired Goodland Road (CR 92A) after receiving $12 million from the county for road repairs. The question came before the board on Jan. 28.
Mike Barbush, a 33-year Goodland resident, told commissioners the problem was an unwillingness to fund the project. Tim Pinter, Marco Island public works director, said the Conservancy of Southwest Florida stymied the project.
Nicole Johnson of the Conservancy said the city needed more water flow studies before it moved forward.
One thing Barbush does not want is more meetings, conferences and budget sub-committee hearings that kick the can down the road.
When the road is covered with water it becomes impassable, Barbush said. Residents told commissioners emergency vehicles could not pass over the road during the flooding.
Goodland Road is the byway that leaves San Marco Road just before the Stan Gober Bridge and winds through the mangroves to the village center. It is the only road into and out of the community, and it is part of Marco Island’s 126 miles of roads.
Goodland residents have spent a multitude of hours in the past eight years trying to convince Marco Island’s City Council that the road floods so badly it is a safety hazard for their community, Barbush said.
An inter-local agreement in 2002 gave the city the portion of San Marco (CR 92) and Goodland roads inside city limits.
Then City Manager Bill Moss wanted them under city jurisdiction, Commissioner Donna Fiala told her colleagues. In the 2002 agreement, the county offered $1 million per year for 15 years to the city for road repairs. The agreement did not earmark the money for any particular road.
In response to complaints from Goodland residents, commissioners decided to send a letter, asking the city for an action plan to address “needed improvements” on Goodland Road. They gave the city 90 days to respond. Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the letter.
Pinter said the city drew up a plan with a consulting engineer in 1999 to elevate and reconstruct the road at a cost of $1.3 million. When the Conservancy of Southwest Florida became involved, there was no support for the plan, Pinter said.
Johnson told commissioners the Conservancy was a signatory to the Deltona Settlement Agreement that protects mangroves on both sides of the Goodland Road.
The problem, she said, was not nature versus improvements. Repairing or replacing the road would require an understanding of water flow in the area. A study to do so, she said, would cost $13-$15,000.
Commissioners were not happy when Pinter told them redesign and repairs on the road were scheduled in the city’s 2018 Capital Improvement Plan. The city only has three years left on the $1 million-per-year agreement, commissioners reminded him.
Pinter defended the city, saying it had spent $117,000 for a separated bike path and $200,000 in general maintenance on the road.
“The road is floating now. Stability drives up the cost,” Pinter said. In addition, the city was challenged by having to elevate the road without touching the mangroves, he said.
“If there is water under the road, then study the water flow,” Johnson said.
Pinter and Johnson agreed that adding a base core or additional pavement to the road would actually make it fail.
City Councilor Amadeo Petricca spoke at the commission meeting.
“Marco Island’s got to fess up and do the right thing,” Petricca said. “I will get involved in this process.”
Fiala said she would like to see the project completed before the $15 million runs out. She warned the city that it had a lot of work to get done in three years.
This week, Barbush said he would not meet with the city until it responded to the county’s letter.
“We’ve passed this off to the county,” he said.
He also felt people who drive across the road when it’s flooded don’t realize that it’s covered with salt water.
“That can get into (vehicle) undercarriages and cause damage,” he said.
“We’ve had a good relationship with Marco Island, but we’re trying a new tack,” Barbush said. “We’re now working through the county.”