Road plans for 2014 outlined by state, Collier and Lee transportation staffs

DAVID ALBERS/STAFF 
 - Construction continues on an interchange connecting Interstate 75 directly with Southwest Florida International Airport on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in Fort Myers.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS, David Albers // Buy this photo

DAVID ALBERS/STAFF - Construction continues on an interchange connecting Interstate 75 directly with Southwest Florida International Airport on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in Fort Myers.

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An overpass may be in the longterm future for U.S. 41 and State Road 951.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

An overpass may be in the longterm future for U.S. 41 and State Road 951.

This rendering highlights in orange the position of a possible future overpass at the intersection of Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41. For now, construction work in the intersection will begin in mid-January 2014.

This rendering highlights in orange the position of a possible future overpass at the intersection of Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41. For now, construction work in the intersection will begin in mid-January 2014.

— A new interchange to provide a direct link to Southwest Florida International Airport from Interstate 75 and a remake of a major intersection east of Naples are two major road projects drivers will see under way in 2014.

Still others will be in the works, just not as visible, Southwest Florida transportation officials said. This is a year during which many projects will be designed, leading to more construction in the coming years, they said.

One of two major state construction projects is the $54.1 million direct connection between I-75 and the airport. Once completed, drivers won’t have to use the Alico Road or Daniels Parkway exits to navigate to and from the airport.

Begun in late 2012 and expected to be finished by spring 2015, the project includes five bridges and seven miles of northbound and southbound roads alongside I-75. Bridges will go over I-75, Treeline Avenue and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway.

For this project, I-75 will close this weekend from Alico Road to Daniels Parkway at 11 p.m. Sunday and reopen by 5 a.m. Monday.

The Florida Department of Transportation also has a major project in the works in Collier County in coordination with the county transportation department’s work at U.S. 41 and Collier Boulevard.

DOT spokeswoman JoAnn May outlined the DOT’s role in the $38 million project that began in December:

The department will widen U.S. 41 East from Collier Boulevard to Greenway Road.

The first portion of the project includes widening U.S. 41 from two lanes to six lanes from Collier Boulevard to Joseph Lane. The current two lanes from Joseph Lane to Greenway Road will be expanded to four lanes. Work includes construction of sound walls along some communities and a multi-use path and sidewalk. It’s estimated for completion in fall 2015.

Collier’s transportation department has two major projects this year.

Jay Ahmad, transportation engineering director of the Collier County Growth Management Division, said they are:

--Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41 intersection improvements that include three turn lanes for northbound and southbound traffic and two turn lanes for eastbound and westbound traffic. The project also includes adding a pond in place of an abandoned gas station on the northwest corner of the intersection for stormwater.

The project will repave Collier Boulevard from U.S. 41 to the Fiddler’s Creek community. The DOT will provide $14 million toward construction of this $20.7 million project, which is ready to begin and is to be completed by 2016.

--Widening of Collier Boulevard to six lanes from Green Boulevard to Golden Gate Boulevard, adding bike lanes, a 10-foot multi-use pathway, roadway lighting, traffic signals and a new bridge at Green Boulevard. The project will be advertised for bids after July. More than $8 million in grants will be used for this project.

In Lee County, the state DOT is to widen U.S. 41 from North Fork Road to the Charlotte County line. This $7.6 million project resurfaces the roadway. Work begins by late February and is to be completed by year’s end.

Lee transportation officials have several projects in the works in the southern portion of the county, adding lanes and traffic control devices, county officials said.

Lee government spokeswoman Betsy Clayton and Randy Cerchie, Lee’s transportation deputy director, said these projects are:

--Still in the preliminary design phase, but projected to begin in late 2014, is the expansion of Estero Boulevard from two lanes to three lanes, adding turn lanes and continuous bike paths. The preliminary project cost is $7 million per mile for the full six miles of Estero Boulevard.

--Turn lanes include adding dual right-turn lanes at Colonial Boulevard and Six Mile Cypress Parkway at a cost of $367,400 with work to begin in late spring; the addition of a turn lane at Williams Road and U.S. 41 in Estero at a price of $135,000 that is expected to be completed in spring; and the addition of a turn lane at Estero Parkway onto Three Oaks Parkway at a cost of $130,000 to begin in late spring.

--A traffic maintenance system is being installed from the Collier County line to the Charlotte County line on U.S. 41 in coordination with the state DOT. The state is purchasing the $5 million system and Lee County staff will maintain and operate it once it is completed by late summer. The monitored computer system will allow traffic operators to adjust timing of signals based on real-time traffic conditions.

County and state transportation officials said several other smaller projects are in the works, including adding or extending bike paths.

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