Goodland Drive, the two-lane ribbon that connects Goodland to the rest of the world, except when there is a heavy rain or a particularly high tide, is the only way in or out for Goodlanders without hopping aboard a boat.

The saga of Goodland Drive is long and twisted, like the access road itself. The road was built by a private individual, barely above sea level, yet still constricted natural water flow to the mangroves that line both sides, almost even with the road surface.

For years, it was a pawn in city-county disputes, with Collier County paying the City of Marco Island for road maintenance that was notable by its absence. Goodland and Goodland Drive are outside the city limits of Marco Island, although firmly on Marco Island itself.

Now that the county has taken back responsibility for Goodland Drive, they are moving to “alleviate flooding and to restore historical tidal exchanges between the east and west mangrove stands,” per a press release from the county Transportation Engineering Division. As one step in the process, the division is holding a Goodland Drive Rehabilitation Stakeholders Public Information Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8, to gather public input.

The physical roadwork is unlikely to begin for over a year, said Transportation Engineering Division Senior Project Manager Andrew Miller in an email. The schedule in “a very tentative winter/spring 2020. Depends on permitting,” he said.

Given the road is “situated within ecologically sensitive mangroves and tidal estuaries,” as the county noted, the review process will be extensive. Permits will be required from “South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (FDEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and we believe the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will be monitoring requirements of the Deltona Agreement,” said Collier County Growth Management Dept. Community Liaison Connie Deane.

“This is a great thing,” said Goodland Civic Association board member and past president Mike Barbush. It’s been a long time coming, he said, but he wanted to accentuate the positive. “We’re excited the county took it back. I went to 30 or 40 Marco City Council meetings” trying to get Goodland Drive back to county jurisdiction. “I’ve seen flooding two and three feet over the road.”

Barbush does have a personal stake in the road and has taken on responsibility for it. As well as living in Goodland, his company, Barbush Irrigation, is the Adopt-a-Road sponsor for Goodland Drive.

Deane said the budget for the work would be approximately $5 million. Preliminary design work by Q. Grady Minor & Associates, the county’s design consultants, has begun, although she added that clearing of brush along the road was not related to the work ahead, to the best of her knowledge.

“During the meeting, an update on the project will be provided, exhibits will be on display, and project team members will be available to answer questions,” said the county’s release. The public information meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 in the Goodland Community Center, 417 Mango Ave. Additional parking is available at Goodland Baptist Church at 40 Mango Ave.

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, who Barbush credited with helping push the project forward, said she would “try to work my schedule” to be able to attend the meeting.

“I want to get citizen input. One of the most important things we can do is hear what the people want, so I can represent their views when I bear it to the BCC (Board of County Commissioners),” said Fiala.

Fiala stressed the county had moved quickly to improve the situation.

“Almost before the ink was dry (transferring jurisdiction to Collier County), we went in and at least fixed the road.”

Deane gave assurances that during road construction, one lane of traffic will be maintained in and out of Goodland while improvements are made.

Just like in the words of the old Allman Brothers song, when it comes to Goodland, “Ain’t but one way out.”


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