The Island Sand Paper provides a monthly update on the reFRESH Estero Boulevard Projects, the largest facelift on Fort Myers Beach during its long and colorful history. Generally, we list what construction is going on, from where to where, but you pretty much either need a map in your head where your brain should be, or one directly in front of you for all that dry information to make sense. To put personality into the process, we ask Kaye Molnar, spokesperson for the projects from Cella Molnar & Associates, six questions each of the next two weeks, to try to make sense of it all.
Q1: What is left to complete in Segment 1, from the Matanzas Pass Bridge to Lovers Lane, now that the final asphalt pour will occur from Sunday night, May 7, through Tuesday night, May 9?
That will be the end of the paving for Segment 1, but there still is a punch list of items that will continue into the near future, like replacing any of the center lane drainage bricks. The final asphalt pour over the next few nights means the big stuff is done, and what remains is not intrusive. By Memorial Day, it should be back to business as usual in Segment 1 and a good time to invite everyone to the beach to see the improvements!
Q2: Much of Segment 1 has elevated manhole covers and sidewalk cuts that have asphalt patches to “level” it for bicyclists and cars. Will there be a final layer of asphalt to even out the street, and when will that occur?
This is what will happen, along with the major paving, from May 7 to 9, to match the grade of the asphalt so those wedges do not stick up. While this is occurring, we ask bicyclists and walkers to take extra precaution in these areas, but when we finish, these will all have paving to provide a nice and smooth ride.
As for the paving on May 7 to 9, we will begin Sunday evening with the southbound lane, then sometime during the three nights will transition to the northbound lane, and we will do this from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. If beach traffic is heavy on Sunday evening, we have contingencies assignments so that we do not have to restrict the road until after sunset. This should be a smooth and fast process.
Q3: Does the public understand reFRESH Estero Boulevard is really five different projects, between the roadway, water, stormwater, sanitary sewer, and utility relocation, and do they care? Which of these will be done first and when?
No! And I don’t blame them as it is complicated! All the general public really cares about is when will it get done, or at least be done around their house or business. For those of us doing the work, there are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of construction companies and local governments and utilities to coordinate, when you consider the projects involve CenturyLink and Comcast and FPL. Of the five projects, FPL and Comcast are already at the south end of the island, and have relocated all their poles, and are transferring services, so utility work will likely be the first of the five to be complete.
Q4: Lee County has yet to authorize funding for Segment 2, from Lovers Lane to Strandview Avenue, yet there is sewer line work on the bay side of Estero Boulevard near the Publix Supermarket. Why is that, when will Lee County approve Segment 2, and what does that include?
Sewer line work is ongoing near Publix because Lee County chose to accelerate force main installation, so they included that into the Segment 1 contract so they could move along with the Town’s waterline project. This allows the contractor to provide temporary widening surface travel lanes to maintain two lanes during most of the projects.
The Segment 2 contract goes before the Lee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, May 16, and if they approve, it will include the roadway work and stormwater for the center lane drainage system that is essential to the remaining elements of the projects. My understanding is the Segment 2 contract will include Segment 3 force main work from Strandview Avenue to Albatross Street so we can move forward with the Town’s waterline work.
Q5: Are there any upcoming Town deadlines, and for what project?
The Town approved Mitchell & Stark Construction to build the first four Segment 2 joint outfall streets on Bayview Avenue, Eucalyptus Avenue, Hercules Drive and Jefferson Court. There are four more to approve, at Bay Road, Bay Mar Drive, Connecticut Street and Donora Boulevard, with those likely coming before the Town in June so construction can begin this summer. Those outfalls must be built for Lee County to continue the center lane drainage system, and the County and Town are working together to obtain those permits, as the roadway project cannot proceed without that center lane in place.
Q6: There are 8 Segment 2 joint outfalls. Why are some of the worst flooding streets on the island not joint outfall locations to move water?
Great question! Streets that flood the worst are not joint outfall locations because we don’t want to channel any more stormwater to those areas, since they cannot handle what they receive right now. If we tried to do that, then the Town would require larger pipes than the 30-inch ones we use, to limit necessary permits and future requirements. Streets that flood the worst will receive their own outfalls, to be placed at a later date.
Next week, Kaye addresses future locations for the roadway concrete barrier wall, the Red Coconut RV Park construction zone, the Seafarer’s property staging area and the most frequently asked questions from the general public. For details or email updates, see www.reFRESHFMBeach.com or contact Cella Molnar & Associates, Inc., at 239-337-1071, 877-496-1076, or email at email@example.com.