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Missy Layfield - Editor
05/30/2013 at 3:41pm Delete

Cooperation

The recent news that the Florida Department of Transportation with the approval of Lee County Board of Commissioners (BoCC) and the Fort Myers Beach Town Council plans to test an alternating lane project on Matanzas Bridge and portions of Estero Boulevard is welcome news indeed.

Whether it is successful in alleviating some of Estero’s traffic woes will be determined after a fair test, hopefully next season. The fact that three major governmental bodies all agreed to something in what appears to be record time is noteworthy on its own.

We have Mayor Mandel and Town Manager Terry Stewart to thank for that. They were the ones who put the pieces together, solicited advice and support from all levels of government and hustled to get everyone onboard. The support of the other council members who approved the project, as well as the county commissioners was also critical, but this kind of multi-jurisdictional cooperation usually only works when a core group grabs the ball and runs with it. And they did, working with Senator Benacquisto, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Florida DOT Engineering, Operations, and Government Affairs offices in addition to Lee County commissioners and our Town Council.

Will the alternating lane trial make a difference? We hope so.

We all know that our traffic problems are complex. There are no simple solutions. In spite of the regular, helpful suggestions that "all” we have to do is build an overpass for pedestrians or widen the street or eliminate left turns, we know that any one solution is unlikely to transform Estero into a free-flowing thoroughfare on any given afternoon in March. That, I suspect, would indeed take magic. But what might be attainable is improvement in traffic flow both onto the beach in the mornings and off the beach in the afternoons and evenings.

For years we’ve endured studies and governmental gridlock that rival any traffic gridlock seen on the road itself. For those unfamiliar with the issue, Estero Boulevard south of the Matanzas Bridge is owned by Lee County.Matanzas Bridge is owned by the State of Florida.