Safety Council

Engage Estero Safety Council is made of volunteers serving as a voice for the citizens of greater Estero on safety and transportation priorities and issues. We advocate for related solutions to Village, County, and State Government organizations.

Latest news…
Road Safety in Greater Estero

Road Safety in Greater Estero

Road Safety in Greater Estero By Contributing Author, Mark Novitski, and Engage Estero Consultant.  Everyone has their definition of what determines road safety or, conversely, what makes our roads unsafe. In writing extensively about Corkscrew Road, I have...

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Sign-Up for Property Fraud Alerts

Sign-Up for Property Fraud Alerts

Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comprtroller Kevin Karnes is now offering an alert notification system for Lee County property owners to reduce fraud. When you sign-up, if a deed, mortgage, or other non-Court official record is recorded in your name, you will be...

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Environment Council

Engage Estero Environment Council is a volunteer group focusing on improving water and air quality and mitigating and eliminating the effects of climate warming in greater Estero.

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Health Council

Engage Estero Community Health Council comprises health* and safety-minded volunteers who think about community health comprehensively with a common desire to improve the overall health of the citizens of greater Estero.

Latest news…
Let’s Make Estero A HeartSafe Community!

Let’s Make Estero A HeartSafe Community!

The facts Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 300,000 lives annually. Approximately 95 percent of SCA victims die before they reach a hospital or receive medical attention. How Can We Help Reduce This...

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Education Council

Engage Estero mobilizes volunteers in our schools, sponsors scholarships, and promotes the involvement of the community through announcements and public forums.

Latest news…
Estero High Cambridge Students Recognized

Estero High Cambridge Students Recognized

By Mike Wasson, Director, Engage Estero The Village of Estero Council issued a Proclamation its Meeting on Wednesday, March 6th honoring 39 Estero High School Students who were presented the Cambridge Outstanding Learners Awards. In his remarks, Jon McLain, Village of...

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Updates on Issues of Impact

Engage Estero believes the best way to get a community involved is to make sure they are aware of the issues impacting their future, and know how to impact those decisions before they are made. We conduct and publish original research and articles aimed at getting residents Engaged.

By Mark Novitski, contributor and Engage Estero consultant

Unfortunately, widening, building, or modifying a road takes longer than people think! It is a complex process. Each stakeholder has several complicated processes to ensure the project is run correctly. The complexity comes into play when several entities have authority over an element of the project (e.g., stormwater runoff, traffic impact, utility placement, etc.). As illustrated by the sequence explained below:

  1. It can take two to three years to justify and assess the project’s priority.
  2. Following the justification phase, completing the project can take 24 – 36 months after the contract has been approved.
  3. Weather, long lead materials and supplies, and material shortages can lead to unforeseen delays.

Identifying a Need

The first step is identifying the need for a new road or modifying an existing one. Traffic studies are required to identify the current capacity of the road (trips per day) and the future needs of the road (development growth) https://www.leegov.com/dot/traffic/trafficcountreports.

Once a road is identified, the appropriate road owner (Municipality (City/Village [Public Works], County [LDOT], or State [FDOT]) works with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to establish the requirement, https://leempo.com/.

The MPO Long Range Transportation Plan (currently 2045) identifies funding by the appropriate road owner: Municipality, County, State, or Federal, https://leempo.com/plans/long-range-transportation-plan/.

Funding

  1. The road owner (Municipality, County, State, or Federal) includes the funding required in their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to build or widen the road. This anticipated expenditure is built into the plan one to two years before the detailed planning begins.
  1. The road owner (Municipality, County, or State) approves funding for a specific road project in specific fiscal years (typically October 1st through September 30th).

Design

The road owner (Municipality, County, or State) creates a Request for Proposals/Quotes (RFP/RFQ) for the road design. An evaluation team from the Municipality, County, or State evaluates the proposals and recommends them to the Municipality, County, or State board. The Municipality (Village of Estero Council), County (Lee County Board of County Commissioners), or the State approves and awards the design contract. The awarded engineering firm designs the new or widened road based on the municipality, county, or state requirements. The engineering firm’s submitted design is reviewed by municipal, county, or state staff and presented to their board for approval.

Permitting

With board approval, the permit process can begin. The following entities are representative of review and approval requirements:

  1. Army Corp of Engineers
  2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  3. Florida Fish and Wildlife endangered species and wildlife habitat

Right of Way Acquisition

When all the required permits have been secured and approved, the next step is Right of Way (ROW) acquisition. The Municipality (Village of Estero Council), County (Lee County Board of County Commissioners), or State staff negotiates with the landowner to purchase the ROW. When an agreement is reached between the landowner and the Municipality, County, or State, the agreement and purchase of ROW is approved by the Municipality, County, or State Board.

Construction Contract

Now that the project has funding, approved permits, design, and ROW secured, a Request for Proposals/Quotes (RFP/RFQ) for the road construction is drafted by staff. The Request for Proposals/Quotes (RFP/RFQ) for the road construction has been released. The proposals/quotes from the bidders are received and evaluated by staff and ranked (a partial list not meant to be all-inclusive):

  1. Total cost
  2. Past performance
  3. Completeness of the proposal/quoted
  4. Insurance/bond
  5. Timing

The staff reviewed, and bidders ranked are presented to the Municipality, County, or State board for approval.

Issuing a Bond

Sometimes, the Municipality, County, or State needs the funds available for the cost of construction, so a Municipal Bond is issued. The bond is backed by the Municipality, County, or State and allows the Municipality, County, or State to pay the construction company. The bond is paid back with property taxes, impact fees, proportionate share, gas taxes, and excess tolls.

The bond has a specific payout structure that dictates how much the construction contractor can bill the municipality, county, or state. Most construction companies are working on multiple projects at one time because of the limitations in billing.

Construction

With Board approval, the construction contract is signed, and a start date is established. This is when you start to see activity at the road site. Surveyors are out-measuring and staking. The first effort is to locate the underground utilities.

Florida’s One-Call Law

The Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes, requires anyone digging or disturbing the ground to contact 811 and have underground facilities marked at least two full business days before excavation or demolition begins.

The Florida legislature codified the location of utilities in the road Right of Way. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0337/Sections/0337.401.html

Utilities are in the Right of Way and not underneath the roadway. The first action is the identification and location of the underground utilities. The following action is to move the utilities from their current location – which is currently under the new/widened road – into the Right of Way. Lee County Utilities is responsible for moving the potable, sanitary sewer, and reclaimed water lines.

Corporations are responsible for moving their respective utility lines/pipes (e.g., FP&L, Comcast, TECO). Lee County, Department of Transportation (LDOT) on Corkscrew Road is installing traffic monitoring infrastructure and cameras to monitor traffic at their traffic control center. The center can analyze traffic activity and adjust traffic signals from the control center.

Once the utilities are moved, the road construction can begin. Typically, in SW Florida, the first construction effort is sheet flow and stormwater runoff piping. For example, sheet flow in the Corkscrew Road. Widening Phase II (Eastern Bella Terra to Alico Road) runs from the northeast to the southwest. This requires pipes for the water to flow south under Corkscrew Road. For example, two drains along the south side of Corkscrew Road border with Bella Terra drain into Lake 1 within the Bella Terra community.

The next effort is controlling the stormwater runoff from the hard surface created by the new road. Culverts and pipes collect the runoff and direct it to ponds, canals, drainage ditches, etc., to mitigate road and community flooding.

With the utilities moved to the Right of Way and the sheet flow and stormwater runoff controlled, the new/widened road can be constructed. But remember, the contractor is required to maintain traffic while construction is ongoing. Safety is a big concern during construction.

Usually, landscaping is completed after construction.

So, typically, once the need has been established, it can take around six years to complete!

The questions this process raises for Engage Estero’s management are:

  • Why, when new developments are planned, such as those on East Corkscrew, doesn’t the MPO LDOT and FDOT agree that road infrastructure is needed well before the build-out is completed?
  • Why can’t the initial process (the two to three years to justify and assess the project’s priority) be shortened, given the rapid increase in traffic density in SW Florida that is occurring now?
  • Regarding safety: When serious concerns have been expressed about road layout issues causing significant loss of life, is it taking so long to modify the problem?