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EAST NAPLES — A major intersection east of Naples is getting an overhaul, with a widening of U.S. 41 east of Collier Boulevard also now in the works.
By the end of this month, drivers at Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41 East will begin to see changes at the intersection leading to the main highway to and from Marco Island.
The Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun preliminary work to widen U.S. 41 East for more than three miles east of Collier Boulevard.
“Our project on (U.S.) 41 from (County Road) 951, east to Greenway Road is underway. Contractors just got started clearing vegetation at the edge of the road. Nothing will look very different until after the first week of January,” DOT spokeswoman Debbie Tower said.
The first phase is to widen two-lane U.S. 41 East to six lanes from Collier Boulevard to Joseph Lane. Next, two-lane U.S. 41 will be expanded to four lanes from Joseph Lane to Greenway Road.
“That’s what traffic demands, from what our traffic projections are telling us,” Tower said.
The $38 million state project, begun in December, is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
As the state job begins, Collier County transportation officials are about to overhaul the Collier Boulevard-U.S. 41 East intersection and to repave Collier Boulevard from U.S. 41 East south to the entrance to the Fiddler’s Creek community.
Collier County’s portion of the project, scheduled to begin in late January, is to be complete in two years. The county’s portion of the project was significantly more expensive than engineers initially anticipated because of recent increases in road construction costs, officials said.
Collier’s intersection improvements include expanding about a quarter mile of roadway in each direction to improve safety by better aligning the lanes in each direction, improving visibility.
Additional lanes will be added so there will be three left-turn lanes for northbound and southbound traffic and two right-turn lanes for eastbound and westbound traffic. The additional turn lanes will be constructed to align with the extra lanes the state is adding.
Other aspects of the county’s project include updating traffic signals and improving bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
Because the county and state projects overlap, DOT is to reimburse the county about $14 million for its portion of the job. The $20.7 million project bid was awarded by Collier County commissioners in October to Community Asphalt of Fort Myers.
The bid, though the lowest of three submitted, was nearly $4 million more than estimated by engineers.
Project manager Marlene Messam informed county commissioners in October that the increase was because of higher costs for asphalt and preparing the existing land for construction.
The earliest the county project would begin is late January, said Connie Deane, a spokeswoman for Collier County government.
In the meantime, county officials plan to schedule a public information meeting regarding construction sometime this month.
An old gas station on the northwest corner of the intersection is to be demolished and plans call for a stormwater retention pond there.
The state project calls for 16-foot sound walls at Imperial Wilderness Mobile Home Park, Paradise Pointe RV Park and Habitat for Humanity’s Charlee Estates.
Culverts and the bridge over Henderson Creek will be replaced.
The project will add a 30-foot median to separate northbound and southbound travel lanes, and openings will be created to allow for left turns and U-turns, DOT officials said. DOT officials identified other aspects of the project:
---A traffic signal at Manatee Road will be replaced.
---The project will add multi-use pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians, including a 10-foot wide path on the southbound travel side and a 6-foot path along the northbound lanes. The pathway will connect Collier Boulevard to the existing trail at Collier-Seminole State Park.
---Bus pads are being added along the route by the state to accommodate future bus stops for Collier Area Transit service.