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Midpoint toll plaza to be rebuilt

By Staff | Jun 3, 2010

The Lee County Commission has approved the contract to rebuild the plaza at the Midpoint Memorial Bridge after the county’s switch to one-way tolling.
Paul Wingard, deputy director of the county’s Department of Transportation, said the commissioners approved the $5.2 million construction contract at Tuesday’s meeting. The project, expected to take about 11 months to finish, will involve eliminating the toll booths in the eastbound direction.
“We will remove all of the obstructions from the eastbound direction,” he said.
About half of the overhead canopy will be removed. The plan also calls for the consolidation of the attended lane from the north side and the addition of two open road toll lanes for the westbound direction of the plaza setup.
According to Wingard, the eastbound direction will consist of one unattended lane for those using transponders, three toll booth lanes with attendants and two open road toll lanes.
On the way out of Cape Coral, there will be two wide open lanes for motorists to choose from.
“It’s time saving for the traveler because they don’t have to slow down, and they’re saving a little bit of time,” he said, adding that the completed project also could save gas for motorists.
“Because a vehicle doesn’t have to come to a stop or slow down and then accelerate,” Wingard said. “Accelerating is when you use fuel.”
The plaza on the Cape Coral Bridge will also undergo a reconstruction.
“We will come back with another supplemental agreement to add the Cape Coral plaza to it in another six months or so,” he said, adding that the plans for the Cape bridge were about 75 percent complete as of Tuesday.
“We will make Cape Coral look exactly like the Midpoint,” Wingard said.
The second project, expected to cost about the same and take about the same time to finish, will consist of removing the entire existing canopy and building a tunnel to go from the plaza out to the second lane for workers.
“It will be replaced just over the attended lanes with concrete slab configurations like that at Midpoint today,” he said of the canopy.
The Midpoint plaza currently has a tunnel in place for toll collectors.
According to Wingard, the plans for the two projects began when the Cape Coral plaza canopy needed to be replaced and the county decided to test out and then switched from $1 two-way tolls on the bridges to $2 one-way tolls.
Now, he explained, the county is going back to streamline the plazas.
“You’ll be able to go by the toll plaza at a normal speed. You won’t have to slow down,” Wingard said. “Improved traffic flow at the toll plaza. Increases capacity at the toll plaza considerably.”
The heavy construction at the Midpoint plaza will not start for about a month, but when it does motorists can expect to encounter some delays.
“We’ll keep the lanes open, but without a doubt, there will be some interfere for traffic,” he said, adding that drivers can travel north or south if it is too busy. “Obviously, during construction, it will cause some issues, but that’s just part of construction, unfortunately.”
Wingard noted that the finished product will be a positive for motorists.
“Finally getting that completed will be a big plus for travelers,” he said.
The county is in the process of setting up a website where motorists can find out what work will be done each day on the bridge. It is an effort to aid drivers in planning ahead for whether they want to take the bridge that day.