The bulldozers will cease rumbling on some road projects in the city this year, bringing an end to years-long traffic headaches on roads like Santa Barbara and Del Prado boulevards.
Concrete will start to be torn up in another part of the city, though, as Cape Coral Parkway will begin life anew when its reconstruction begins later in the summer.
When it’s all said and done, millions of dollars will have been spent to make Cape Coral roadways wider, fresher and newer, and some of the city’s major thoroughfares will be ready to handle traffic loads for years to come.
Del Prado Extension/Santa Barbara
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and Family Fun Walk are set for Saturday, May 21, to celebrate the nearly completed Del Prado extension.
The $23 million project will come in on schedule, according to project spokeswoman Maricelle Venega, and is expected to be fully wrapped up by July.
Work on the Del Prado extension began in 2007, which included widening it to six lanes, adding landscaping, drainage, widening of bridges, adding retention ponds and 10-foot multi-use paths for pedestrians, among other changes.
The ribbon cutting is designed to get citizens out on the extension’s new walkway to see first hand the changes that have come to Del Prado Boulevard north of Pine Island Road.
Santa Barbara Boulevard, too, is expected to be wrapped up this year, following four years of work that extended from Pine Island Road nearly to Veterans Parkway.
As with Del Prado, Santa Barbara went through a dramatic change as the roadway was widened from four lanes to six in most places, curbing and drainage systems were installed and sidewalks added for pedestrian use and safety.
Valued at $28 million, the newly realized Santa Barbara also features the extension of Trafalger Parkway through Santa Barbara, turning the three-way intersection into a four-way intersection.
Venegas said each projects, while similar, provided its unique challenges due to different business and traffic volumes.
“They both had their own challenges,” Venegas said. “You have them in every project because you have to be tuned in to each of the roadways and the volumes of traffic and the businesses and residents along the corridor. You have to keep them safe.”
Cape Coral Parkway
Plans are in the works to spend nearly $1.8 million to rebuild Cape Coral Parkway from Coronado Parkway to Del Prado Boulevard.
Plans call for not merely resurfacing the road, but instead will include milling the existing road before it is resurfaced.
The road will be milled five inches, then layered with four inches of structure asphalt, and an inch of surface asphalt, according to city staff.
The project should keep Cape Coral Parkway looking good for several years.
The project was put on hold so that “snow bird” season could pass, and the parkway would have less traffic on a daily basis.
According Stephanie Smith from the Cape Coral Transportation Department, the project could face some delays due to the “rainy season,” but for now is scheduled to begin in July and wrap up in October.
Smith said the project will cause some delays along the parkway, but all businesses that front the main thoroughfare are well aware of the forthcoming work.
Two lanes of thru traffic will remain open during peak hours, according to Smith, and crews are expected to work 24 hours a day to speed the project along.
“Our intent is to be out of the way and completed by early October,” Smith said.
Toll Booth Work
The conversion of the Midpoint Toll Booth Plaza into a one-way tolling location is expected to be completed in June. By then, conversion of the Cape Coral bridge Toll Booth Plaza will be a month old.
Both projects, combined, are valued $12.6 million.
Four years ago the county flirted with one-way tolls, and eventually decided it was the way to go.
As county transportation staff was cut in half, it made sense then to reconfigure toll booths that were no longer needed, and to speed up traffic along those corridors.
According to Lee County Transportation Director Paul Wingard, the project’s cost will be exceeded by the savings in the long-run and, and will help travellers get to their destinations quicker and cleaner.
“It helps to improve the flow of traffic considerably,” Wingard said. “It reduces the amount of emissions from vehicles and helps them to flow freely.”
The Midpoint toll booth plaza work took about a year to complete, and the Cape Coral toll booth plaza is estimated to take roughly the same amount of time, according to Wingard.
When work on the Cape Coral bridge is ongoing, Wingard said drivers can use the Midpoint bridge and add only 10 minutes to their commute times.
“We did Midpoint first because we think traffic will be smooth. They can go to Midpoint and not add a tremendous amount of time,” he added.