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Goodland Drive will soon be back in Collier County's hands, but repairs could still be years away.
The road, a short stretch through mangroves that marks the only way in or out of the small community of Goodland, often floods during high tides and storms.
Marco Island took the road over from the county when it became a city in 2002. The county agreed to pay the city $1 million a year for 15 years to maintain it.
That money, according to the agreement, was to be specifically used to fix Goodland Drive and any other roads in the city.
But Marco City Council members never used it for Goodland Drive, instead spending the money on other city roads. Upset that the road has been ignored, Collier County commissioners have withheld the final $2 million owed to Marco Island.
Marco Island council members and county commissioners have agreed to a deal that lets the county keep the final $2 million so long as it also takes the road back.
The project is difficult because the old road was built with seashells through a line of mangroves. It needs to be completely reconstructed and elevated so water can flow underneath it. Repairing the two-lane road could cost more than $4 million.
Repairs to the road have lingered for more than a decade because the project is too complex for the city of Marco Island, Larry Honig, chairman of the Marco Island City Council, told county commissioners early this month.
"We cannot handle this project; its just that simple," Honig said. "We've never built an elevated roadway and have never held workshops with the Army Corps of Engineers. This would be an enormous distraction for our public works department."
Collier County, with a much larger staff and road network, has not only the money but the tools and experience to get the project done.
Any work on the road could still be years away.
Environmental permitting will be a major factor in how fast it can move forward, county spokeswoman Connie Deane said.
"It's still in the draft stage at this point," Deane said.
The county is tentatively planning to pay for design work both this year and next year, and set aside money to begin construction in the 2020 fiscal year. The budget for the project has not yet been approved by commissioners, Deane said.