Island Florida News, Marco Island Bridge Expansion
expansion of Judge Jolley Bridge In the planning!
It has been announced that state
engineers have begun a two-year process to complete design of
an $17 million dollar project to expand the Judge S.S. Jolley
Bridge from two to four lanes. Traffic records show that
the 34-year-old bridge is handling more than twice the traffic
it handled in 1987 — 18 years after the bridge opened in
1969. As some of you may know, the bridge was a toll
bridge, ranging from five cents to fifty cents. What
will the new toll be if any? This is to be determined.
It could be 2005 before the Florida
Department of Transportation can place the project out for bid
and begin actual construction, and that's only if the
Metropolitan Planning Organization maintains the expansion
project at a high priority on the road projects, where it sits
at No. 2 on the Collier County list behind a Davis Boulevard
Expansion project in Naples.
According to the Florida Department
of Transportation counts, Jolley Bridge had an average daily
trip count of 12,359 cars per day in 1987. The ADT figure is
an annual count based on quarterly counts that include the
island's peak season months that often are double what
off-season counts total, DOT spokeswoman Debbie Tower said.
By 1999, ADT counts jumped to 26,000
cars per day, Tower said.
Broken down to actual quarterly
counts, by peak season months of January, February and March
2001, the bridge was carrying 33,135 cars per day. During
October, November and December 2001, the count dropped to
25,841, but then rose to 32,879 during January, February and
March 2002, according to Marco Island Public Works Director
The counts Ryziw noted were taken off
the island north of the bridge at a count station just south
of Isles of Capri Road on Collier Boulevard.
Local business and public safety
officials say expanding the bridge to four lanes is needed as
soon as possible to alleviate traffic backups that occur daily
during peak season months from January to April when the
island's off-season population of 18,000 residents booms to
That's not counting local beach
visitors, tourists and the hundreds of Collier County
residents who travel to the island to work.
Marco Island Police Chief Roger
Reinke said there have been 14 accidents on the bridge or at
the base of the bridge since January 2002.
None of those had serious injuries
but most that occur in peak season cause traffic snarls that
back traffic lanes up on the bridge and back north to County
Road 951 or south for several blocks into Marco. The backups
worsen because highways on either side offer four lanes that
merge to two lanes on the bridge, causing traffic stack-ups,
which aggravate motorists with traffic delays and hamper
emergency vehicle access on and off the island, Reinke said.
Just as short as a month ago, there was a crash on the South
side of the bridge at about 4:30 pm. Of course, traffic
was at a stand still, with people backed up to the Marriott
Hotel trying to leave the island. Emergency vehicles were
having a very tough time getting to the scene, as they were
slowed by the two lanes of stalled traffic while attempting to
get to the rear ended car.
"From a public safety standpoint
and a traffic control standpoint, the more lanes you have the
more options you have for alternatives," Reinke said.
"That's not true with just this
bridge, but with any bridge. It's only common sense that
additional lanes give you more options to reroute traffic and
provide alternatives that will help reduce traffic backup in
Marco Island Chamber of Commerce has
a transportation committee that has not yet discussed the
proposed bridge expansion project. It's been reviewing other
traffic relieving strategies, such as providing public
transportation to employees who travel from as far away as
Immokalee to work on the island, Chamber President Bob Dictor
"We would be very supportive of
a bridge expansion project," Dictor said. "We
probably would support a toll. But any improvements that would
re move the impedance of traffic presented by the current
bridge would be good for businesses as well as for
Marco Island Civic Association has
yet to take an official position on the proposed bridge
project, MICA President Jim Arnold said.
"The board hasn't really taken a
position on that," Arnold said. "I'm not really sure
what's being proposed or who's paying for what yet. It just
hasn't been brought to the board's attention at this
Tower and Ryziw said the DOT will
hold public workshops on the proposal — to build a parallel
two-lane expansion adjacent to the existing bridge to create
four lanes — once the design process enters final phases a
year and a half from now if not sooner.