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Estero Boulevard work, to be continued...

May 24, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It's been a long road, but the first segment of the Estero Boulevard project has reached its substantial completion.

In construction, substantial completion means the major parts of a project are finished and only smaller to-do items remain, a punchlist before the county and town sign off on the project's completion.

There are a few things left: landscaping, property restoration and permanent striping. Crews are pulling up some of the pavers that have chipped and replacing them.Some comments have arose about the current crosswalk painting, but it's not the final product.

Article Photos

The work on Segment 1 of Estero Boulevard is substantially complete, but this is not the final striping and traffic paint work. The reflective lines and arrows will be applied in the beginning of June, once the asphalt has properly settled. Trolley stops, like this one, will also be labeled.

Kay Molnar, spokeswoman for ReFresh Estero Boulevard, said the final road striping and directional arrows will be painted in the first week in June. Crews have to wait 30 days from the final paving to put down the durable, thermal plastic markings these are more durable, reflective materials.

Then the trolley pull-offs will be labeled, center-lane arrows

"Mid-June is the end of the contract," Molnar said.

The town and county are also working a list of final to-dos. If a resident or business sees something that hasn't been finished up or needs attention, they should contact Molnar's office after the final striping is laid at 337-1071 or

"We're certainly open to getting information from everyone's eyes," she said.

Segment 1 ran from Crescent Street to Lovers Lane. But there are some ahead of Segment 1 who are still waiting for their new waterlines.

The Times Square area has been left untouched for now, but its waterlines still need to be replaced.

John Lallo, owner of Pete's Time Out, questioned Mayor Dennis Boback at the May 9 Estero Island Taxpayers Association about when that part of the waterlines project might start.

"I want to have a timeline so I can prepare," Lallo said.

The waterline runs right through Times Square. Public Works Director Scott Baker said the section through the square is the main feed for the island.

Changing out the lines is part of the waterlines project, but it's not currently scheduled at this time - while it is a priority, Baker said there are streets in worse shape. But Baker said he's hoping to start the designing phase and bring it to town council soon so that construction could potentially begin next summer, after season.

He wants to give the council enough time to workshop what the members want Times Square to look like - revamping the streetscape, replacing the tiling, etc.

"We have plans for it but the oddity is we have to build something more than a road on top," he said.

Since it's such a small area, Baker doesn't think the waterlines project will take long to complete. The plan is to reroute the main line around the square so that the hub of activity will not have to get dug up again.

Baker said the businesses will have "plenty" of notice, and plenty of time for input as he thinks the council will want to do a visioning workshop to figure out the streetscape. Any construction will be done off-season.

"We'll work heavily with the merchants, try to make the least disturbance," he said.

Segment 2 and the Red Coconut RV Park

While the northern business core is out of the thick of construction, the island's more residential areas will now be facing the brunt of it. Segment 2 runs from Lovers Lane to Madera Road, near Publix.

Lee County approved its portion of the Segment 2 contracts at the May 16 meeting - a hefty $18.5 million in work.

But work in Segment 2 has already begun. Molnar said the county has already completely installed the sanitary sewer force main and connected it to the sewer, getting ahead of the town's waterline replacement. The town is currently installing those waterlines along Estero Boulevard now and should be done this summer.

It's a bit of a quicker progression than the first segment.

"We're trying to improve on what we've done in the past," Molnar said.

The biggest chunk of work for Segment 2 will be the center lane stormwater drainage pipe and the side street outfalls it will connect to. The road has to be graded down in elevation and reconfigured to drain toward the center of the road, where the stormwater will then drain into the pipe underground.

The town and county also have to work together to install eight joint outfalls - underground pipes that will drain the main Estero Boulevard pipe out to the Back Bay.

The projected completion date for Segment 2 is the fall of 2018.

Not everyone is pleased about Segment 2.

Estero Boulevard's right of way expands from 55 feet to 65 feet at Lovers Lane.

When Lee County staked out its right of way in the next segment last fall, several properties were found to be encroaching on the county's property.

Fran Myers, owner of the Red Coconut RV Park, went head-to-head against Lee County when the county claimed the fourth row of her RV park was over the line on the Gulfside. The RV Park has been in business for almost 90 years, and Myers found an old survey that she believed proved her property line. Ultimately, Myers said she decided to back down. If she and her husband and co-owner, Tom, had sued the county and lost, they'd have to shell out the cost of the county's attorneys and fees.

"Our attorneys felt that we could have won, but the cost of losing - we're a mom and pop operation, there's no way we could have afforded to lose," Myers said.

The Red Coconut will still take a hefty hit. To get into compliance with the county's property line, Myers is losing the fourth row of her park. It's not just moving RVs out of the way; the Myers will have to move all of their underground utilities - waterlines, sewer connections, gas lines and electricity.

And unless she can find a way to reconfigure the beach side of her park, she's going to lose about 16 spaces - $100,000 in revenue, she said.

"It's not just moving the RV's," Myers said. "A lot of people thought it was no big deal, but it is a big deal."

The loss of the fourth row hits in another aspect of the park. It's one of the few areas that Myers can fit the longer, 40-foot vehicles.

"RV's keep getting bigger and bigger," she said. "We have to figure out if we can reconfigure and take that hit."

Segment 3, coming soon

While it seems fast, work on Segment 3 is not far off.

Segment 3 will run from Strandview Avenue through Dakota Avenue. Molnar said the county sent out right of way letters Friday, warning residents about landscaping and hardscaping in the right of way, and will begin staking out the property line either this week.

The town and county engineers are currently working together to identify the next set of streets for the joint outfalls. They will present their findings to the Town Council in June, Molnar said.

"We're trying to stay ahead with the outfalls for permitting purposes," she said.

The projected end date for the entire Estero Boulevard project is 2021.



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