Three Lights, Three Jurisdictions
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.
On Tuesday, 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.
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.”
The cost of the county signal design is $104,695 with construction funding budgeted with federal funds and projected costs estimated at $1 million, with $762,000 coming from FDOT for construction, which is expected to begin by early 2021.
The intersection of Old San Carlos Blvd and (North) Estero Blvd. is 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.
The Matanzas Pass bridge is owned by the State of Florida, so any traffic signal or change in traffic flow must be approved by the FDOT. The Town and County have been working on a design and Council commented on several options at an October meeting. Hernstadt said he expects the County to bring a revised traffic flow configuration to Town Council in March, one that will facilitate quicker flow through the downtown area.
“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.