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GPICA, LEEDOT talk island traffic issues

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Oct 13, 2021

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

Island traffic issues, especially during season, are nothing new, with various solutions proposed and considered, Greater Pine Island Civic Association president Helen Fox said at the October meeting.

As season approaches, the growing population, coupled with new construction, makes a solution to the island traffic problem even more pressing. At the meeting, Lee County Department of Transportation Director, Randy Cerchie and Deputy Director Robert Price gave a PowerPoint presentation followed by a question and answer period, where members were invited to comment.

Cerchie described the explosive Lee County growth as it pertains to traffic as, “just bad,” saying the grade level of service at the intersection of Pine Island Road and Stringfellow Road is an “F” for failing. Four different options have been weighed, he said. Among these options are a one-way pair with median u-turns, a quadrant road with signals for critical movements, a multi-lane roundabout or a traffic signal with turn lane improvements.

The one-way pair option, Price explained, would restrict turning movements at the intersection, eliminating movements that cause heavy delays. This option, he said, shows the best level of service at the intersection, with a grade “C” however, it’s unconventional.

The quadrant road with signals option, said Price, will also take away some turning movements, increasing the level of service to an “E.” This option would require three traffic signals.

The multi-lane roundabout option requires two lanes to accommodate heavy left turn volume. This free-flow movement is also at grade level “E,” with pedestrian beacon crossings added at the intersection, void of traffic signals.

The last option is a conventional traffic signal, with lane widening on both Stringfellow and Pine Island Roads. This option has a “D” level of service.

A grade of “E” or “F” is common on any road, which is measured at peak time rush hour traffic, said Price, emphasizing that any of the presented options are going to create a better flow for island traffic.

According to Cerchie, any of the aforementioned options will require a designer and cost upwards of $6-8 million.

The developments of Calusa Cay and Orchid Cove, said Price, will generate daily vehicular traffic to approximately 7,300. Much of the traffic is already in existence, he said, making it sound more significant than it is.

This intersection, added Cerchie, can handle more volume than is currently on Pine Island, and the development of the new shopping center and town homes may keep islanders from having to travel off-island, minimizing traffic coming and going.

Updates on islander disapproval of illegal berry harvesting on Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve, the public hearing on the liquor store variance approval and a report from the Pine Island Pandemic Task Force were also given.

The next meeting will take place on Nov. 9, in person at Pine Island United Methodist Church. Mask will be required regardless of vaccination status. It will be a public information meeting about the proposed kayak launch site in St. James City, which will include a boardwalk and small parking lot.

November’s meeting will also be available live on Facebook.

To view the October Zoom meeting in its entirety, please visit gpica.org.