Estero Boulevard. Of course not everyone hates it, but for some among us, it’s a punchline to a rant about construction and how long it’s taking and it wouldn’t be like this anywhere else. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Oh, wait. We’ve all heard it before.
And that’s why we wanted to point out a major milestone. This week, the final section of water line work began. From Buccaneer Drive to the south end of the island they began shifting traffic for the last Estero Blvd stretch of water line. How sweet the sound of “south end of the island” is for those of us who have been here since it all began in the summer of 2015.
Four and a half years ago, the Estero Blvd projects started with water line work from Times Square to Lovers Lane. We had no idea what we were in for. The dual projects, the Town’s water line project and the County’s Estero Blvd reconstruction, were complicated by the fact that they both went down the only through street on the island. There was no way to close it off, do the work and then open it up like this level of complete reconstruction is usually done elsewhere.
When this all began, Lee County was still talking 10-12 years to complete the entire road from the Matanzas Bridge to the Big Carlos Bridge. Once the impact of construction in our primary business corridor was seen, that time table was shortened to what should end up being more like 6-7 years. A long time certainly, but much better than 10 -12 years.
One thing that is worth mentioning related to the projects beyond their progress is safety. Prior to the start we had several years of serious accidents and pedestrian deaths on Estero. Many of us worried that number might go up when half the island became a construction zone. Yet the opposite happened. Somehow pedestrians became safer in the midst of construction. Why was that?
Maybe it was because drivers slowed down and became more alert in construction zones. Maybe pedestrians became more cautious when crossing Estero Blvd. Maybe construction crews emphasis on safety made the difference. Whatever the reason, we are hopeful it continues for the remainder of the project and beyond.
So when will it all be over? Projections say by the end of 2021, less than 2 years from now. That would make the project a total of just over 6 years. That first mile was a huge learning curve for everyone involved. Those lessons seem to be paying off and the project is now in the newest part of the road – both factors in the pace of progress.
A nifty side effect of the construction — it’s given those of the negative persuasion something to complain about. Come on, you know there are folks who aren’t happy unless they’re complaining about something and there’s nothing like four and a half years of roadwork to offer opportunities to complain. Have at it – there are only two years left.
And in the meantime, be careful out there!