In the Know: Aargh. The driving disaster known as Davis Boulevard

This patch of Davis Boulevard, complete with weeds, has been leading to lane closures since June and backups during heavy traffic periods. It won't be fixed until November. This was taken after the morning rush on Thursday Sept. 19, 2019.

Many of you have questions about "The Street Project That Will Not End" on Davis Boulevard, near U.S. 41.

There are concerns about safety. Concerns about unnecessary traffic jams. And concerns about the economic impact: That's where I come in as a growth and development columnist.

The frustration is clear.

Here's one example from Debbie Reed of Naples.

"Any idea how long the lane on Davis Blvd between Shadowlawn and 41 will remain closed? This is the third month. Just a small section is torn up, left open; in the meantime we’re down a lane. Aargh."

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Then there's Raymond Bowie of Naples, who noted that weeds are growing in the road itself because no one's seemingly been doing anything. (I had to check this out for myself and have the visual evidence above. Yes, those are weeds.)

"Davis Blvd is a major arterial linking the City of Naples to East Naples. For a number of months now, there has been a small pavement excavation in the right lane westbound on Davis Blvd at a busy section just before Davis merges into Route 41, in which the entire right lane has been closed to traffic for about a quarter-mile in front of several shopping centers and a supermarket," Bowie said. "With season just around the corner, this threatens to strangle traffic into downtown, and worse, risk some real serious accidents. I understand that the state is responsible for maintenance here. What gives?"

The news isn't good, folks.

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And by the way, don't blame my new pals at the Florida Department of Transportation. Believe it or not, they have nothing to do with this mess. I was as surprised as you.

"The department issued a permit to allow Crown Castle, a private utility company to conduct utility work in the state right of way back in June 2019," said JoAnn May, communications specialist for FDOT. "Crown Castle's contractor damaged the underground pipe while conducting work on their project."

A previously provided map of Crown Castle's cell phone tower installations. It has more than 40,000 of them as one of the biggest companies in the communications network industry. The company has played an unexpected role in the traffic issue on Davis Boulevard.

Oh-oh. It gets worse.

"This required an emergency repair to prevent further damage to the road. The contractor is currently awaiting the stainless steel sleeve which should arrive within six weeks," May said. "Once the sleeve arrives and is installed; the road will need to be paved approximately 50 feet in both directions and will take about another week to complete. Once the road is repaved; the lane closure will be lifted and reopened to the public in early November."

She's asking you to hang in there.

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"The department certainly understands the frustration having this closure in place and asks motorists to drive with caution, courtesy, and patience as they travel through this area," she said.

I haven't heard back from Crown Castle, a big dog in the communications network industry. As part of information with its second quarter 2019 earnings report, it owns, operates and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and about 70,000 route miles of fiber across every major US market.

So I bet you have some of the same questions. Here's a few. May fielded them.

Q: First, why have the road closed while waiting for this piece of steel?

A: "The lane closures are necessary to maintain safe conditions for motorists due to the instability of the road. This instability is due to the damaged pipe underneath."

Q: Who's paying for this?

A: "The contractor is required by the department to pay the cost of the repairs to the pipe and any damage to the roadway."

Q: Why is there such a long wait for this piece of steel, and how big is it? Can't someone just pop over to Home Depot or Lowe's?

A: "It’s a 48-inch steel sleeve pipe that is being custom made and fabricated, and shipped from Germany."

Doesn't anyone use leftover plywood and duct tape anymore?

Phil Fernandez writes the In the Know column, focusing on growth and development. Send tips or questions to

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