We’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news is that with the Royal Palm tree situation resolved, any road work that’s necessary to get Gateway Boulevard, Griffin Drive and Commerce Lakes Drive West to meet Lee County standards (so the county will accept ownership of the roads) can start on schedule.
The work is set to begin in June 2015.
The bad news is that they’re going to have to close sections of those roads in order to make the repairs, and the north end of Gateway Boulevard in particular will be shut down for significant amounts of time as the palm trees are re-located.
It’s estimated that the road turn-over will save Gateway residents $19 million over 30 years, but in order to get that long-term gain there will be some-short term pain.
Specifically, a traffic nightmare at the intersection of Griffin Drive and SR-82.
Everybody who lives in a community along Griffin Drive already knows how bad it is, even right now. Adding the traffic from the cars and trucks that would normally use the light at Gateway Boulevard is practically unthinkable.
Traffic flows at a steady pace going 50-60mph in both directions along SR-82, and there’s no traffic light. That means drivers waiting on Griffin Drive must sometimes choose between making a risky attempt to turn and enter the traffic, or hold off until it’s safer while the people in the cars behind them become increasingly annoyed.
It’s just not going to work out well for anyone.
While it’s possible that some will people choose to head south on Gateway Boulevard and use the Daniels intersection which has a traffic light, the majority of people will use Griffin where drivers are left to make their own decisions.
It’s difficult to describe, but when you’re at the Griffin and SR-82 intersection and you’re turning left you feel pressured by the vehicles behind you. People rarely honk their horns because everybody knows it’s a dangerous turn to make. But for whatever reason when it’s your turn to go it feels like you must take chances because you don’t want to hold up the people behind you.
When you look left and right and you can see another group of cars heading in your direction you know that waiting a little longer could mean that you’ll end up waiting a lot longer – so you take unnecessary chances.
The Sun will be reaching out to the Gateway Services Community Development District to see if there are plans to add a police presence to direct traffic at the Griffin/SR-82 intersection at the times when Gateway Boulevard is closed at SR-82.
Hopefully having the police there was the plan all along and this entire article is for naught.
But if there’s no traffic control … when an accident does happen – and it will – first, we obviously hope there won’t be any injuries, but the second concern is that the traffic build-up (which was already very bad) will be even worse while the police investigate the scene and it’s all cleaned up.
No matter what, June and July promise to be a frustrating time for motorists entering and leaving Gateway.
When you’re at the front of the line on Griffin Drive, please only go when it’s safe to go.
If you’re in the line waiting for your turn, remember that becoming frustrated or honking at somebody else won’t create an opening in traffic for them on SR-82.