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BOCC to look into Burnt Store issues

By Staff | Jan 20, 2016

The Board of County Commis-sioners, the county and DOT representatives told residents who have been affected by the Burnt Store Road widening project that they will look into the communication protocols regarding the project.

Angry residents voiced their concerns about the project, including safety, noise abatement and the project’s proximity to people’s homes on Tuesday at the BOCC meeting.

While the residents weren’t able to stop progress on a project that has been in the works for more than a decade, they convinced the commission and the DOT that communication regarding the project could have been better and that they would look deeper into the issue.

“We assure you your questions are going to be answered. I don’t know if it will be to your satisfaction, but we won’t ignore the fact you all were here today,” Commissioner Frank Mann said.

It was a lot for the commission and the DOT to take in. Randy Cerchie of Lee County DOT said they put out a lot of information when such projects are done, but they can always do better.

“I don’t know how some folks didn’t get the information. We’ll go back and take a look at what we did and see what happened,” Cerchie said. “We took a lot of notes and we’ll go back and look for answers, brief the commissioners and get back to the residents who spoke.”

One by one, the residents walked up to the dais and expressed their views. But if they were expected immediate gratification, they were disappointed.

Cathy Bradley of Northwest 31st Place is new to the area. She said she didn’t know of the expansion.

“I came here in July. I was never told that this road was going in. One morning I woke up and thought there was an earthquake. It was a gigantic earth mover right behind my house,” Bradley said. “I have cracks in my walls. I was told no berm or privacy wall. It’s terrible what’s happening,”

Bradley said she wanted answers now. County Manager Roger Desjarlais told Bradley they were listening and that they would take appropriate action and get back to them at the right time.

“It’s impossible to sit here say that because we need to get the team together and talk about it, so we give accurate information to put the rumors to rest,” Desjarlais said.

Jason Farris said he is all for the road widening, but that the road was too close to people’s homes and that guardrails wouldn’t stop a disaster if an 18-wheeler was to go off the road.

“It this near my home, I would already have had my attorneys at this meeting,” Farris said. “We have to have a berm or a wall separating commercial traffic from our swimming pools.”

The neighbors all had issues with the project and the way it’s affected their way of life.

Brian Adams, who lives off Burnt Store Road, said there are several concerns about a road he said was “railroaded through” and how it would be done.

“The main issue is there will be no barrier between the road and the houses. They’ve always done that with projects south of Pine Island Road. Here, it’s just flat land with no separation,” Adams said. “Now, I’m hearing of a road that will be closed down that wasn’t supposed to be.”

Joseph Wysocki said he sees and hears everything that goes on.

“Every time the compacter comes, it shakes the house and there’s a loud, annoying sound all day long,” Wysocki said. “There’s also an alleyway planned between the road and my property. I want to find out what they want to do with it. It’s the perfect place for a berm.”

Commissioner Brian Hamman has said that adding a wall or a berm would make the project cost prohibitive, a notion the neighbors disagreed with, calling it, in Adams’ words “rubbish.”

“If they didn’t have the money to start at the beginning, why start in the middle and go from one lane, to two lanes to one lane,” resident Royleen Supanich said. “I’ve lived here six years. I had my house appraised in September and in January it was $100,000 less because of the road. I hear noise you wouldn’t believe.”

Hamman said he heard about safety on the road, and that once completed, the road would be much safer. He added they need to educate those who may not have been “in the know” the process that went into the road.

“Many were supportive of widening road. We need to huddle with those who are working on the road to show all the safety aspects that have been built into this road,” Hamman said. “The intent was always to build a road that was safer by making it wider and getting people to I-75 faster in the event of a hurricane.”

The $30 million road project will be built in three stages, with Stage 1, from Van Buren to Diplomat set to be completed by next spring.

Phase 2, from Tropicana Parkway to Diplomat is set for 2016-17 The final phase, from Tropicana to Pine Island Road, set for 2018-19. Ultimately, the road will be made into six lanes with a two-lane frontage road.