That Sinking Feeling

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Pink Floyd sang about just another brick in the wall, but brick pavers in the road of the Estero Boulevard Construction & Waterlines projects have officials singing the blues.

Newly installed paver stones in the center turn lane are sinking, causing emergency repairs on this $10.1 million segment of the Estero Boulevard improvement. “The issue is between Avenue C, just south of the Lani Kai, to Miramar Street,” explains Kaye Molnar, spokesperson for the projects. “Crews are checking the elevation of the pavers to determine if and how much they are settling or shifting. We are going forward with the Palm Avenue to Chapel Street segment, with modifications based on what we learn.”

The Estero Boulevard Construction & Waterlines projects are difficult because they combine the roadway redo with improvements to the Town of Fort Myers Beach’s water service and stormwater runoff systems to afford greater treatment of water headed to the island’s back bay and Gulf of Mexico. The sinking and broken pavers are pervious and slope inward to bring storm water to the roadway center where it drains. If the pavers receive incorrect installation, the drainage will not properly work.

Paver problems may delay the completion date for this area from the end of 2016 into early next year, with Lee County engineers and construction management personnel spending the past week studying the dilemma. “Design issues happen all the time,” Kaye explains. “Most large-scale jobs like this require some redesign when they move from the drawing board to reality, and these are no different. What is unusual about Estero Boulevard is it is like being on the 50-yard line in a gigantic football stadium, with every resident having a front row seat to watch the action up-close. This means that anything that occurs out of the ordinary happens in plain sight, and everyone talks about it. We are confident our excellent engineers and project managers will work this out without a significant delay.”

She states that crews will pick up work days whenever possible, to minimize business disruptions. “Night work is necessary because Florida Power & Light workers had to travel all over the Southwest for Hurricane Hermine and Matthew emergency repair work, causing us meaningful delays. We explained this to the business community, who told us to do whatever is necessary to complete the job as quickly as possible. We will avoid high profile weekends but the rest of the year until the holidays seems to be wide open.”

The reFRESH Estero Boulevard and Waterlines projects involve the reconstruction of the six miles of Estero Boulevard from Crescent Street to Big Carlos Pass, consistent with the vision in the Town of Fort Myers Beach Streetscape Master Plan. It is to be complete in six approximate one-mile segments at a total cost of roughly $41 million, taking an estimated decade to finish, to allow for construction of one section while finalizing the design and permitting of the next.

Although its primary focus is not to ease seasonal traffic congestion, improvements will help travelers shift to alternative transportation modes like bicycling, walking or the trolley. Planners say the upgraded Fort Myers Beach main corridor will enhance the beach experience for visitors while stimulating local business.

For more information see www.reFRESHFMBeach.com or call 239-337-1071, 877-496-1076 or email at kmolnar@cella.cc.

 

Gary Mooney