Burnt Store Road widening gets nod
Just over two miles of Burnt Store Road will be widened following a state grant that will see Lee County receive $3.85 million for the project.
Slated to begin sometime between 2014 – 2015, Lee County and Cape Coral also will use excess bridge tolls to pay for the widening, which will stretch from SR 78 to Tropicana Parkway.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said Friday that the project — among several others slated for Cape Coral — will be discussed during the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s monthly meeting next Wednesday.
McGrail said the widening is long overdue, especially since Burnt Store Road serves as the major hurricane evacuation route for western Cape Coral, Matlacha and Pine Island.
“After Hurricane Charley we recognized what a real hurricane can do,” McGrail said. “The widening is a priority. After Charley, it’s long overdue.”
The timing of construction on the project could be tricky, McGrail added, citing the forthcoming reconstruction of Cape Coral Parkway as an example. The CRA Board recently delayed the start of that project until next spring as not to interfere with “season.”
Finding the right balance for Burnt Store could be difficult, McGrail said.
“We might not want to tear it up in the middle of our busiest season, but the longer you wait, all of a sudden you’re in the midst of hurricane season,” McGrail said. “We’ll try to move it forward as soon as possible.”
Dave Loveland, project manager for Lee County Public Works, said he viewed this two-mile stretch as the first leg of much larger and more ambitious project: widening Burnt Store Road all the way to the Charlotte County line.
“It’s a costly improvement to do all at once, so we broke it into phases and this is essentially phase one,” Loveland said.
While the level of traffic along Burnt Store doesn’t require the road to be widened yet, Loveland said the two-mile stretch will be a marked improvement from a safety standpoint.
“Four lanes with a median will make it safer from the standpoint of an evacuation route,” he said.
The widening also could help to create some commercial growth along the corridor, as city council recently re-designated the land from residential to commercial use.
Although the project still is four-plus years away, McGrail said the potential of commercial activity is there once the project is completed.
“We always envisioned Burnt Store Road to be the equivalent of Del Prado West, if you will, with commercial node extending up the length of Burnt Store,” McGrail said.
Lee County MPO will meet Wednesday, Dec. 8, Cape Coral City Hall, at 9:30 am.