Our second holiday season with construction is underway. With season just a few short weeks away, this is a good time to look at how far we’ve come with the whole waterline/Estero projects.

Anyone who has been following the projects as closely as we have been knows that the waterline project is a Town of Fort Myers Beach project. The large water mains being placed along Estero Blvd are just part of a larger project that will eventually replace all municipal water lines in the town, side streets and all. During the first two phases, the waterlines along Estero Blvd. have been replaced along the Gulf side of the road and that part of the project has been completed before the road reconstruction part.

The Estero Boulevard Project is a Lee County project and includes reconstruction of the road, adding sidewalks, trolley stops, drainage and relocation of existing utilities, including power, phone and cable lines and replacing the sewer lines that run along Estero Blvd.

That’s a whole lot of work and an almost incomprehensible effort to coordinate all the moving parts so the project keeps moving. And it is moving and from what is already done, it’s worth the wait.

Originally slated to be completed at the end of this month, Phase One is behind schedule, but making progress. Two hurricanes drew utility crews away during a crucial point in our project. Something no one could prevent. It put the project behind schedule, but project managers appear to be taking steps to speed things up where possible.

In the completed section, we have wide sidewalks on both sides of the street. The pavement is down. The center lane drainage tiles have been a problem, sinking in sections that saw a lot of traffic during construction. Those areas will be fixed in the next few weeks.

This is all progress. The project will soon be past the most dense business area in our town. Our visitors will arrive in a couple months to find a nice new road & sidewalks in the first stretch of road on the island. All positive signs.

As new commercial areas are affected by construction, we urge residents and visitors to make the extra effort to patronize Island businesses, both the ones now in the work zone and the ones just out of it. They’ve suffered for months and could use a boost. Our Island’s small businesses are the ones who support local activities, donate to local causes, hire local people and participate in our community. They are a critical to the healthy economy of our community.

If you’re looking for holiday gifts, look between the bridges first and support your local business community.


Safety First

As traffic picks up with the arrival of seasonal visitors, everyone sharing our Island needs to brush up on some safety tips. We have many drivers on Estero for whom our construction traffic patterns are new and unfamiliar. We all hope to emerge from our construction with everyone healthy, intact and able to enjoy the results of that construction.

A few Estero Blvd basics will go a long way to achieving that goal.

In areas where there is no center turn lane, leave space between you and the car ahead of you at intersections and driveways if traffic is stopped. When someone is waiting to make a left turn, that whole lane backs up. Little thing – big difference. Add that to your list of Estero safety tips, along with watching for pedestrians, stopping at crosswalks, letting cars into traffic, giving bicycles 3-feet of space and being fully engaged in driving – no distractions.

You’ll notice the signs that say bike riders can use the whole lane. That’s a safety issue for bike riders. Our construction lanes do not have room for a bike rider, 3 feet of space and a car, so bikes are safer if they use the whole lane. That’s why the signs are there and you’ll find bikes in the middle of the road in the construction zone. Give them space.

Pedestrians need to do their part. Cross at crosswalks. Wear white at night. Carry a flashlight — do whatever it takes to be visible to a driver. If there’s a sidewalk – use it. That white line won’t protect you from a distracted driver.

Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians. If they ride in the street, they must follow all traffic rules. Get a front and rear light for your bike if it will be ridden at dusk or later.

If tempted to lose your cool in traffic, remember that you’re driving in paradise. This is no place for road rage. Roll your windows down and enjoy the balmy breeze. Wave at road crews. They are making it possible for all of us to get from one end of our Island to the other.

We’d like to go this whole season without any serious injuries to pedestrians or bicyclists. That is only possible if we all pay attention ALL THE TIME.

Let’s make this a safe season!


Missy Layfield