reFRESH Projects, Phase 2 Progress

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Estero Blvd. & Waterlines

The reFRESH Estero Boulevard Projects recently attained a significant milestone with the completion of Segment 2 work from Lovers Lane to Strandview Avenue, near Publix Supermarket. This means that the first two miles of the six-mile multiphase, multi-million dollar construction program, to upgrade, install, or replace underground utilities, waterlines, sanitary sewer, stormwater drainage and the roadway are done.

“The real icing on the cake for any segment that is or is nearly at completion is when people see the final roadway paving in place, and this is now over in Segment 2,” said Kaye Molnar of Cella Molnar & Associates, spokesperson for the projects. “There is not much left to do in Segment 2, other than a few minor things and some punch list items, like replacing several mailboxes. The main thing yet is to reset some of the brick pavers over the center lane stormwater drainage system, due to the fact that when we were rebuilding the southbound lane on the beachside, we all drove over those, and they are not designed to handle non-stop traffic, so we must replace some, especially around concrete grates, like we did when we completed major work in Segment 1.”

Another aspect of Segment 2 that work crews must still complete is its permanent striping. “Right now, what you see is only temporary,” Kaye stated. “When we finish laying down the asphalt for the roadway, it actually takes from 35 to 40 days to completely harden. Once that time passes, we will strip away the temporary material and replace it with thermal plastic striping and markings that will be much brighter, with a sparkly appearance to it that will provide better reflectivity.”

A major positive component of the completion of Segment 2 may not be readily apparent to local business or homeowners, and perhaps might not be now until late next spring. “It hasn’t rained much since the Labor Day holiday weekend,” Kaye reminded, “and we are now rapidly nearing our dry season, but folks in that area should no longer experience any flooding during our heavy summer rains, just like in Segment 1. Finally, and I don’t want to undersell this, that stretch of Estero Boulevard just looks so nice, new and clean!”

Asked if she hears from Segment 2 home or businessowners about the finished product, Kaye let out a hearty laugh! “Well, if you mean am I receiving Thank You cards or congratulatory telephone calls, no! You can, however, almost feel the sense of relief from people in that stretch of the roadway, especially from those near the curve by Lovers Lane and the Red Coconut RV Park. Since that is the juncture between Segment 1 that began in July 2015 and the start of Segment 2 in March 2017, there had been some type of work ongoing near there for over four years.”

Start of Bicycle Lanes

Bicycle ramps ensure a safe & seamless transition for the 9-foot sidewalks in Segment 1 to the dedicated 5-foot bike lanes in Segment 2.

An exciting Segment 2 enhancement are the five-foot-wide dedicated bicycle lanes on each side of the roadway. “The bike lanes narrow the sidewalks from nine feet to six,” Kaye reported. “There are one to two-foot strips of land that separate sidewalks from the bike lanes that basically begin just past the Red Coconut RV Park curve. While it is great to finally have the bike lanes, they also allow for traveler delineation. In Segment 1, you have cars and bicycles together in the roadway in the Sharrow Lanes, while bicyclists and walkers compete for space on sidewalks. From Segment 2 on south, cars are on the roadway, bicyclists are in the bike lanes, with pedestrians having the sidewalks to themselves!”

Some comment, however, that this is not yet the case, as many bicyclists are still using the 6-foot sidewalks while eschewing the 5-foot bike lanes. “I think that, after Segment 1, people have been biking on the sidewalks for so long, it will take them a little while to get comfortable in the bicycle lanes,” opined Kaye. “Rather than the curb providing you with that feeling of separation and security from the cars, they are pedaling right next to them, so that is only natural. The more folks get used to being in the bike lanes, especially once we complete them all the way to the south end of the island and they run the majority of Estero Boulevard, the more you will see people utilize them and the sidewalks less.”

Kaye pointed out as well that where Segment 1 with the Sharrow Lanes ends, and Segment 2, where the bicycle lanes begin, “there is a ramp that lets bikers segue safely right from the sidewalks into the bike lanes and vice-versa, so that is pretty neat! Dan Moser, the longtime Lee County bicycle & pedestrian advocate who bikes more than almost anyone else in our area, is very particular about bicycle facilities and trails, and he really likes the bike lanes we have so far!”

She believes that the dedicated bicycle lanes on each side of the roadway will eventually aid in enhanced traffic flow, as a major goal of the entire project is to make Estero Boulevard a multimodal corridor, “and we accomplished that with the roadway, 5-foot-wide bike lanes, and six-foot-wide sidewalks, all designed to help relieve vehicular congestion as much as possible.”

Segments 3, 4, 5 & 6

reFRESH project map showing the six segments of work. Find more information at reFRESHFMBeach.com

With Segment 2 basically complete, Segments 3 & 4 construction continues from Strandview Avenue to Albatross Street, with work crews combining these two segments into one zone. The center lane remains closed from Strandview to north of Lazy Way for the stormwater drainage system installation, with the concrete barrier wall or construction barrels separating the north and southbound traffic lanes, meaning that motorists in that location must make righthand turns onto Estero Boulevard, then U-turns to proceed in their intended direction. “Drivers and pedestrians will find three openings for vehicular and pedestrians crossings,” Kaye noted. “These are at Sanders Drive near Publix Supermarket, at Dakota Avenue and at Avenida Pescadora.”

Crews earlier this week shifted traffic from the southbound travel lane to the center lane from Strandview to south of Madera Road to mill asphalt and reconstruct the roadway. Right-of-way restoration continues at the sidestreet outfalls at Curlew and Ibis Streets.

Work continues on the Town of Fort Myers Beach companion waterline project. Crews shifted traffic to the bayside from Lazy Way to Albatross Street to install water main on the beachside. Town contractors are placing new water main and storm drainage on the following sidestreets: Aberdeen Avenue, Dakota Avenue, Driftwood Lane, Dundee Road, Glenview Manor/Williams Drive, Lauder Street, Lazy Way, Madera Road and Palmetto Street; and are preparing sidestreets at Buccaneer Drive, Lagoon Road, Lenell Road, Redfish Road, and Tarpon Road for similar work.

As for Segments 5 & 6, from Albatross Street to the south end of the island, “no construction is underway yet,” offered Kaye, “but we are proceeding with the 90% engineering design plans.” For assistance, information or email updates, including a new online construction zone map, see www.reFRESHFMBeach.com or call Cella Molnar & Associates, Inc., at 239-337-1071, 877-496-1076, or email kmolnar@cella.cc.