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1. Signal upgrades will have impact along U.S. 41

The Florida Department of Transportation has contracted with Ajax Paving Industries of Florida to upgrade the traffic signals and components at six U.S. 41 intersections in Collier County.

“These improvements will replace and upgrade the traffic signals, pedestrian crossings signals, and the traffic detectors. Lanes must be closed while workers replace the traffic detectors (under the pavement) as well as when they are working over the travel lanes, for the safety of the workers and motorists,” said Zachary Burch, FDOT government affairs and communications manager.

Work began Monday at the U.S. 41 intersections at Rattlesnake Hammock Road and Lakewood Boulevard/ Avalon Drive in East Naples.

Expect some intermittent lane closures during the day, but most of these will be overnight and restricted from rush hours, Burch said.

FDOT is beginning with the East Naples signals to the south since they have the lowest traffic volumes, Burch said.

2. Publix supermarket in Golden Gate Estates is set to open

The long-awaited Publix supermarket in Golden Gate Estates is set to open at 7 a.m., March 23.

On average, it typically requires 40 semitrailers loaded with groceries to stock a new Publix store. That work began last week as employees from other area Publix stores reported for duty to start the process, said Brian West, corporate spokesman for Publix Super Markets Inc.

“It typically takes us about three weeks to get the stores stocked,” West said. “It’s a lot of folks. There are a ton of people scrambling throughout the store. It’s a lot of busy work. They’re there with a mission.”

Once the shelves are fully stocked, the final food items to be put into place will be the produce on the afternoon before the store opens, West said.

3. Brush fires burn in eastern Collier

Fire departments from Collier County battled a brush fire Sunday in eastern Collier County that destroyed a structure south of Alligator Alley and threatened a horse barn, officials said.

The fire, reported to involve about 800 acres in the 5700 block of Lee Williams Road, was being fought by several brush fire units and fire tankers.

The area, south of Interstate 75 west of Picayune Strand State Forest, is sparsely populated. Horse stables in the immediate area were being evacuated, and the Forest Service reported one structure was burned. No details were available on the type of structure.

High winds and low humidity contributed to the fire risk. The National Weather Service reported Sunday’s winds in Collier County were more than 20 mph, gusting to 30.

Authorities reported at least one more brush fire, south of Interstate 75 and east of Collier Boulevard, that was contained Sunday afternoon.

Several other brush fires cropped up over the weekend, including multiple fires in Lehigh Acres in eastern Lee County that the Caloosahatchee Forestry Center said damaged seven homes.

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