More Lanes, More Traffic Lights
Change is coming to downtown traffic. Fort Myers Beach has had pedestrian crossing lights and Fire Station caution lights, but never a true intersection traffic signal on the island before. Soon it may have three of them, all coordinated with each other to help the flow of traffic in the downtown area. Under consideration are three possible traffic signals at intersections controlled by three different government entities – the State of Florida, Lee County and the Town of Fort Myers Beach. In addition, San Carlos Blvd will be altered to add a traffic light at Main St., bike lanes and a beach-bound traffic lane.
Last week, the Lee County Board of Commissioners approved funding for the design of a new traffic signal that will be placed at Estero Blvd. and Crescent Street. The Town of Fort Myers Beach has donated right-of-way space for the signal and intersection improvements. Estero Blvd. is a Lee County owned road, while Crescent Street is owned by the Town. Construction is expected to begin by early 2021.
The county press release stated, “The signal at this intersection will be coordinated with a planned Town of Fort Myers Beach signal at Estero Boulevard/Old San Carlos Boulevard and a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) signal at San Carlos Boulevard/Fifth Street to coordinate traffic flow.”
Old San Carlos Light
The second traffic light will be placed at the intersection of Old San Carlos Blvd and (North) Estero Blvd., owned by the Town of Fort Myers Beach. Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said that the design of that traffic signal is at 60% design completion, with comments from the County and State Department of Transportation (DOT) already in hand and work underway to have the design complete by the start of the State’s fiscal year on July 1.
“If Council and the County OK the plan, then it will go to the Florida DOT,” Hernstadt said. “All three signals will be part of the County traffic signal control system.” He explained that with the use of cameras, the system will be able to adapt automatically to changing traffic levels to improve traffic flow.
Bridge & San Carlos Blvd
The Matanzas Pass Bridge is owned by the State of Florida. FDOT has consulted with the County and Town about their road project from Hurricane Pass to Estero Blvd, which they’ve broken into two parts: Island and Beach. In a February newsletter, they announced that they are proceeding with Island Alternative 2 and Beach Alternative 1.
Matanzas Pass Bridge will be widened to include a shared use path on the west side of the bridge. The southbound bus lane will be converted to a regular travel lane so there will be two oncoming lanes, with the right lane a turn lane onto North Estero Blvd. A traffic light is proposed for the base of the bridge.
Travelers heading to Fort Myers Beach will find two travel lanes and a bike lane from the Hurricane Pass light, which will be an alternating signal only when traffic is backed up on the Matanzas Bridge, all the way to Estero Blvd. A bike lane will be added in both directions. A new light will be added at Main Street. A new barrier protected sidewalk will be added along the west side of Hurricane Pass Bridge.
Big Carlos Bridge
At the other end of the island Lee DOT has a model and graphics of their choice for the new Big Carlos Bridge on display at the Beach Library until March 30. The information will also be available at the Lee County DOT office, 1500 Monroe St, Fort Myers. A public hearing and open house will be held at Bay Oaks Rec Center, 2731 Oak Street, FMB, on Thursday, March 19. The open house begins at 5pm, followed by a formal presentation and public comment at 6pm.
The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted on December 18, 2018 to approve the 60’ fixed span bridge on the Gulf side of the existing bridge as the preferred alternative. This is the option that will be presented at the public hearing.