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Early projections put planned expressway round trip tolls at $8

By Staff | May 19, 2010

Population projections for 2035 are prompting Lee County Department of Transportation officials to build what they’re calling the Colonial Expressway, a series of tolled “flyovers” that will connect the Cape to I-75 along Colonial Boulevard.
At a stakeholders meeting at La Venezia on Tuesday, DOT’s Don DeBerry said early estimates on the tolls would cost around $8 for a round trip, a price that includes the $2 toll over the bridge.
He also said he thinks people in Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres would be willing to pay the tolls to save time.
“It will be a seven-minute drive on the expressway as opposed to an hour in 2035,” DeBerry said. “And a 25-minute trip in the frontage lane.”
For those not willing, or unable, to pay for use of the flyover, each section will have two- lane frontage roads with free usage.
Businesses along Colonial Boulevard have expressed their concern over the project, saying long-term construction and the inconveniences that arise from the completed project will draw customers away from their doorsteps.
Citizen activist David Urich said it makes more sense to install high-occupancy vehicle lanes to keep traffic moving, instead of installing a $400 million project he doesn’t think anyone will use.
He doubts, too, that traffic is so heavy along Colonial that it justifies the project, and that there are pressing traffic issues in the county, such as the intersection of U.S. 41 and Daniels Parkway, which recently was named one of the most dangerous.
He suggested that raising the toll on the Midpoint Bridge a quarter, would alleviate the traffic and send people either north or south.
“It’s a different way,” Urich said of the expressway. “But not a better way.”
Russ Ringland from Ringland construction said he believes the project is a necessity.
Though population numbers have slowed, or even dipped, dramatically following the construction bust, Ringland said things will always come back.
“There’s no doubt about the growth,” Ringland said. “The upswing is inevitable.”