Collier County commissioners approve $2.9M contract for Goodland Drive project
Collier County commissioners approved unanimously Tuesday a $2.9 million contract to rehabilitate the only road to Goodland to stop it from flooding due to high tides and extreme rainfall that have impacted the roadway for decades.
Jay Ahmad, the county's director of transportation engineering, wrote in an email Monday that construction may start as soon as the end of March and last nine months.
Patty Kirk, owner of the Kirk Fish Company on Goodland, said Monday that starting construction before Easter could have a negative impact on her family business because that is when a considerable amount of their sales happen.
"That's going to hurt us," Kirk said.
Jamie Bozicnik, general manager of the Little Bar Restaurant, said Monday the county should listen to small business owners when deciding when to start construction. She said the construction should start mid-April or later.
Bozicnik said she had been unable to attend the community meetings with the county about the Goodland Drive project.
"I'm not surprised," Bozicnik said about the construction's tentative start date.
Commissioner Rick LoCastro, who represents Goodland, Marco Island and East Naples, said Tuesday that if the county starts construction during the off-season it might not end until after next season starts.
"Then what happens if we get a massive hurricane in November?" LoCastro said.
LoCastro said portions of the Goodland Drive will not remain closed for the entire nine-month period.
"We will make sure it stays on time and on budget," LoCastro said.
Bozicnik said that occasionally she has had to pick up her employees near Goodland's entrance by San Marco Road because they could not drive through the flooded street. She said that last year they once had to close the restaurant early because of roadway flooding.
"It has gotten worse," Bozicnik said.
Kirk said the flooding does not affect her but that repairs are needed so first responders can access Goodland during emergencies. The Kirk family is a fifth-generation Florida fishing family.
"We are fishermen, we know how to work with Mother Nature," Kirk said.
Mike Barbush, member of the board of directors of the Goodland Civic Association, said Monday that preventing Goodland Drive from flooding will allow residents, visitors and first responders to safely access the village. Barbush, owner of a local landscaping company, has lived on Goodland for the past 41 years.
"It's a health and safety issue," Barbush said.
Goodland Drive rehabilitation project
Ahmad wrote the project includes elevating the existing two-lane roadway by an estimated average of 13 inches and adding several cross-drain pipes to allow tidal and storm flows to easily pass from one side of the road to the other.
"These improvements will help make the roadway more usable and safer throughout the year," Ahmad wrote.
To minimize impacts to the traveling public during construction, two-way traffic will be maintained during construction to allow ingress and egress to Goodland, according to Ahmad.
Ahmad wrote the roadway will also have a revitalized multi-use pathway or sidewalk on its south side beginning at San Marco Road and ending at Harbor Place in Goodland.
In addition, Ahmad wrote resurfacing is planned for the following side streets: Harbor Place from Papaya Street to Goodland Drive, Pear Tree Avenue from Goodland Drive to East Court and Papaya Street from Pear Tree Avenue to Bayshore Way.
For these purposes, county staff recommended the Fort Myers-based company Thomas Marine Construction as the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, according to the county's executive summary of the project.
The project is being funded through $2 million in leftover money from an old agreement with the city of Marco Island, over $1 million from gas taxes, a Florida Department of Transportation grant of $500,000 for the design and roughly $18,500 in water user fees, according to the summary.
Marco Island in charge of maintenance
In 1999, two years after Marco Island residents voted to become a city, Collier County and the city signed an agreement to transfer the ownership of public roads and rights-of-way from the county to the city.
In 2002, the county transferred Goodland Drive to the city and pledged to pay the city $1 million per year during a 15-year period. In exchange, the city assumed all maintenance and operational responsibilities of the roadway.
Sometime after, Barbush and other Goodland residents started attending County Commission and Marco Island City Council meetings to request that Goodland Drive be transferred back to the county because the city had not fixed the flooding problem.
"I must have gone to 40 City Council meetings," Barbush said.
In 2016, county commissioners voted to withhold from the city the remaining $2 million of the agreement in an attempt to get the city to to either give Goodland Drive back to the county or work with the county to come up with a plan to repair it, according to Naples Daily News reports at the time.
In 2017, the city agreed to transfer Goodland Drive back to the county.
"We just stayed on them for year after year," Barbush said.