Gateway Sun

Ever notice that very few accidents happen at the corner of SR-82 and Gateway Boulevard, yet it seems like there are several accidents each month at SR-82 and Griffin Drive?

The difference, of course, is that there’s a traffic light at Gateway Boulevard – whereas at Griffin Drive it’s a free-for-all where vehicles which are at a full stop must join (or cut straight across) a near constant flow of traffic going 60mph.

For parts of June and July of this year Gateway Boulevard will be shut down at SR-82 while road work is performed and the Royal Palm trees are re-located. That will make the situation at Griffin Drive exponentially worse as the amount of traffic doubles or triples, and the amount of inexperienced and nervous drivers who are accustomed to the safe and orderly traffic navigation at Gateway Boulevard are suddenly forced in to the gauntlet at Griffin.

As we previously wrote, we’re attempting to find out if there’s any plan to have any form of traffic control at Griffin and SR-82, because it’s going to get ugly.

And as we’ve also previously wrote, GSCDD Operations Manager Scott Connell has so-far ignored our public documents request on the matter from last Tuesday (May 19).

Since we weren’t getting anywhere waiting on Connell, we reached out to Randy Cerchie who is the Acting Director of the Lee County Department of Transportation, as well as Rickey Caines who is a Traffic Operations Specialist with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Cerchie and Caines have had less than one “business day” to respond so far. And let’s not forget that it was just a holiday.

But despite that, Cerchie got back to us. On Memorial Day no less.

Cerchie began his email by explaining that once the improvement of Gateway Boulevard and Griffin Drive have been completed and the palm trees have been re-located, Lee County will own those roads.

(We think we may have already heard that somewhere.)

Cerchie then said, “Until that time, the safe operation of those roadways is the responsibility of WCI and the GSD. I have not seen the maintenance of traffic plan for the proposed roadway improvements, which would include the relocation of the palm trees. If and when I’m provided a copy of the proposed maintenance of traffic plans, I’ll be happy to share them with you.”

Okay.

So either there is no traffic control planned for Griffin and SR-82 while Gateway Boulevard is shut down, or Cerchie is unaware of it.

SR-82 is controlled by the state, not Lee County. But what Cerchie brought up that we didn’t think of was that WCI may also be responsible for Griffin Drive along with the GSCDD. WCI and the district jointly own Gateway’s main roads, but we don’t know which of the two owns the actual piece of Griffin that makes up the intersection of SR-82.

Nevertheless if they were going to have some form of traffic control for safety reasons, it seems unlikely that the head of the Lee County DOT would be kept out of the loop, especially since turning the roads over to the county was the main catalyst for the road improvements in the first place.

It just seems like something Cerchie would be cc’d on.

Anyway, we’re going to give Connell and Caines another day to get back to us.

Otherwise our plan of action for the Florida DOT is to hit the phones and start finding out who else we can contact.

Meanwhile, for the GSCDD … if we can work with the State of Florida to extract the records from Connell, apparently against his wishes, we’ll do it.

We have to. There will be more vehicle collisions and the safety of over half the residents of Gateway is at stake.

Including the three people in my household who drive.

And if you ever exit Gateway Boulevard at SR-82, your safety will be at stake in the coming weeks too.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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