Here’s what we all need to know:
The Gateway Services Community Development District plans on shutting down Gateway Boulevard near SR-82 during parts of June and July 2015.
But the question is, will they be shutting the road down for five minutes at a time or for entire days?
Either way, repairs to Gateway Boulevard must be completed to get them up to Lee County standards, and 37 Royal Palm trees need to be re-located from the median (where they are now) to the sides of the roadway and closer to SR-82.
Once Gateway Boulevard, Griffin Drive and Commerce Lakes Drive West meet Lee County standards, the GSCDD and WCI will turn ownership of those roads over to the county – saving Gateway residents an estimated $19,000,000 over 30 years.
It’s nearly June and the GSCDD does yet know how they plan to re-route traffic while Gateway Boulevard is shut down, however they do have two options on the table according to documents obtained by the Sun through a public records request.
First option: “Maintain two lanes of traffic through the work zone at all times, except between the hours of 9 AM and 4 PM, the contractor may close one lane of traffic by setting up a flagging operation and alternating the flow of traffic through the single lane per FDOT Index 603. In addition, the contractor may interrupt the flow of traffic in both directions during the lifting operation to remove a palm for a maximum duration of 5 minutes per FDOT index 625.”
Second option: “Close both lanes of traffic during daylight hours utilizing a detour, properly signed and maintained per FDOT 600 Indexes, with Griffin Drive as the detour and maintaining only local traffic on the north end of Gateway Blvd. Access must be maintained to the Stoneybrook Condos and Stoneybrook communities at all times. Adjust traffic patterns and access via a variable message boards at each closure point. Access for emergency vehicles must be maintained through the work zone at all times. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic must be maintained on the path at all times.”
These options were presented by Gateway’s Operations Manager Scott Connell to Sarah Christensen of O’Donnell Landscapes Inc.
Obviously, people will hate both choices. But we all must keep in mind that there are only bad options, and that the GSCDD and contractor must select the best bad option available.
But the second option is a really, really bad idea.
There are so many vehicles that use Gateway Boulevard that they have installed a traffic signal to control the traffic. In fact, last night one reader commented on our Facebook page, “I counted 37 cars waiting at the light on Gateway Blvd and SR 82 a few days ago.”
Quite simply, there’s a reason that traffic light is there: because if it wasn’t there it would be dangerous.
If you take all of that traffic and send it to Griffin Drive, which has no signal and is already accident-prone just with its own traffic, it’s easy to envision a scenario where extremely long lines will frustrate motorists and cause them to take risks turning on to SR-82.
Additionally, more people coming from SR-82 in to Gateway will need to turn left or right on to Griffin Drive instead of being able to turn at Gateway Boulevard. That will only make the situation worse as cars will begin to form queues in the middle of SR-82, which will make visibility worse (and the wait time longer) for those sitting at the stop sign at Griffin.
Basically, it’s a very bad idea to take all of the traffic from a location that needs a traffic signal – and then move it to somewhere that there is no traffic signal.
The first option the GSCDD was discussing – having a flagger, shutting down one lane for long periods and both lanes for short periods – is also no fun, but traffic-wise it doesn’t seem as dangerous.
As was mentioned in the documents we obtained, the reason they would need to shut down Gateway Boulevard completely up to five minutes at a time would be because they’re getting ready to pull out or move a Royal Palm tree.
If a tree somehow slipped from their equipment and landed on a car ….
It’s easy to see the need to shut down the road completely at certain moments during the tree re-location process.
A third option if they want to shut down Gateway Boulevard to get the work done faster would be to have the Florida Highway Patrol or Lee County Sheriff’s Office temporarily act like a traffic light at Griffin Drive and control traffic there. It’s possible that the time and money saved by the contractor completing the work faster could offset some of the costs to pay the police, and there’s no question it would be safer. This idea is not being discussed by the GSCDD as far as we know.
GSCDD Chairman William Guy said in an email to the Sun that nothing has been finalized. No contracts have been signed, which at least means that all options are still on the table.
We don’t believe that any of the Supervisors live in an area of Gateway that would cause them to frequently use Griffin Drive to get on to SR-82.
Before they agree to a plan to re-route Gateway Boulevard’s traffic to that intersection, we invite them to try out Griffin at SR-82 a few times and see what they’re missing.