Construction Work Continues
While much of Fort Myers Beach is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, one aspect continues to hum along – the reFRESH Estero Boulevard Projects!
“We are full speed ahead,” said Kaye Molnar of Cella Molnar & Associates, spokesperson for the Projects. “There is no negative impact from the coronavirus. In fact, the lack of significant traffic is a lot better for us, as there is less congestion on the roadway, so we can work even faster. What you will notice about Estero Boulevard right now, as you drive toward the south end of the island, is it has a bit of a snake-like look, with construction causing several lane crossovers, as we have a lot going on.”
While work continues, crews implement social distancing. “There is a great deal of handwashing,” Kaye emphasized, “and they are all trying to stay at least six feet or more from one-another. Fortunately, there is not much tool sharing, as most of the work involves heavy equipment, with one operator dedicated to each piece.”
Construction on Segments 3 & 4 that are one combined construction zone stretching from Strandview Avenue to Albatross Street. The multi-million dollar projects continue to upgrade, install or replace underground utilities, waterlines, sanitary sewer, stormwater drainage and the roadway. “With the reduced traffic and this rain free weather, I only wish we were paving right now,” joked Kaye. “We have paved the beachside lanes from Flamingo to Albatross Streets, so traffic has been shifted there to begin work on the bayside.”
As work moves south, so does the five-foot-wide dedicated bike lanes and six-foot sidewalks on each side of the roadway. “Crews report a definite uptake in bike lane and sidewalk use,” Kaye said, “especially since the beach closure. We are happy to hear that, as one of the major goals of the entire project was to get more people using its multi-model transportation elements, so we are spending extra time sweeping and cleaning the bike lanes and sidewalks, to keep them as accessible as possible.”
Segments 5 & 6 and Town Waterlines
While road work has yet to begin on Segment 5 & 6, from Albatross to the south end of the island, Kaye offered that “the engineering design plans are near completion. As such, we are currently asking homeowners in that stretch to take care of any right-of-way issues and are putting together a letter to let them know that deadline. Major road construction will begin in May and June, so now that many people have extra time on their hands, this is an excellent opportunity to remove anything in the right-of-way. Since coronavirus precautions prevent us from holding public meetings, we will include a construction rendering, with things like the typical roadway width, sidewalks, and the greenway, so people know what to expect, and will post this on the website. Remember, however, that the coronavirus has us all in unchartered territory, so be ready for any unplanned changes.”
As for the Town’s companion waterlines project, contractors are restoring right-of-way on Buccaneer Drive, Lagoon Road, Redfish Road and Tarpon Road, with the final storm drainage installation on Lenell Road. “We saved Lenell for last,” Kaye explained, “because there are many condominiums there, but now many of those folks returned home, so we will start near the end of the month. We posted signs informing everyone that construction is coming!”
There are good aspects to report, said Kaye! “By the end of the week, we should be done installing all 16-inch and 10-inch water pipes to the end of the island along the beachside of Estero. We will mill and pave the Laguna Shores neighborhood soon, with only the Lenell outfall left in Phase 4. We continue to seek permission to pressure check and chlorinate new waterlines, but that requires approval from appropriate agencies, so that is out of our control. If everything works out alright, however, we may be done with the waterline project by this fall! As for the roadway, the final section of the center stormwater lane is near, as that ends after the curve by the Church of The Ascension; we already ordered the last load of bricks! From there to the south end, it will be the more traditional road design of a crown in the middle, with drains on each side.”
For assistance, information, or email updates, including an online construction zone map, see www.reFRESHFMBeach.com. To communicate directly with Kaye, contact her at Cella Molnar & Associates, Inc., at 239-337-1071, 877-496-1076, or email@example.com.
Kaye offered one final piece of good news: “When people reach out to me now, they are usually much happier with our pace of work, as opposed to the projects’ early days and that is much appreciated!”