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Lee to receive $74 million for road, transit projects

By Staff | Apr 8, 2009

Some $74 million in economic stimulus money is coming to Lee county to pay for transit and road projects.

The projects range in scope and price from $62 million for the Metro Parkway Extension, to $535,000 for bike lane on Summerlin that reaches out to the Sanibel Causeway.

FDOT Spokeswoman Debbie Tower said the agency is doing everything it can to speed up the approval process, which must pass first through a state legislative budget commission and then a federal highway administration.

Tower said that process would normally take “three to four months”, but FDOT officials hope to shrink that time frame. If all goes as planned, construction crews could be hard at work by this summer.

“We are trying to shorten our process to try and get dirt turning as quickly as possible,” Tower said.

The biggest project will be the Metro Parkway Extension, which the FDOT estimates will create 1,800 jobs.

Tower said those 1,800 potential jobs will encompass more than just contractors. Engineers, administrative people, utility work, and subcontractors will all be needed to see the project through to completion.

While the Metro Parkway Extension will fall on state hands, there will be an additional seven projects directly falling on Lee County and city of Fort Myers DOT.

Those projects include: culvert replacements, repaving shoulders, constructing turn lanes, bike lanes, and sidewalk repair.

Tower said Lee County has pledged $5 million of their own stimulus funds toward the Metro Parkway Extension.

“The local folks said ‘We’re going to pledge $5 million to this project’, so there’s a good level of support,” Tower said. “That’s going to be key to this project.”

Tower expects the projects to pass quickly through the approval phase. They will then go out for bid, offering companies county wide the chance to offer some much needed jobs.

“We’re preparing our bid packages now. That will really help to streamline this process,” she said.

LeeTran also will receive more than $7 million to purchase new vehicles, including vans, buses, and trolleys. Shelter construction for riders also will be included in those funds.