Officials Celebrate Completion of Estero Boulevard Project | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS

City of Fort Myers Beach officials joined Lee County government officials and Chris-Tel Construction to celebrate the completion of the Estero Boulevard reconstruction project. Photo provided

Lee County officials, joined by members of the Fort Myers Beach City Council and Chris-Tel Construction, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Charley’s Boat House Grill & Wine Bar on Wednesday to declare the reconstruction project complete. of Estero Boulevard over seven years.

Lee County Fire Commissioner and Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker was widely credited with initiating the talks that led to the roadwork. Construction began in 2015 to improve six miles of Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach. Lee County government officials said work was completed faster than expected, with an initial estimate of 10 years for a repaving project that also included new sidewalks, center turn lanes, stops and stops streetcar, bike lanes, and improved drainage that was done in coordination with the City of Fort Myers Beach water main and stormwater work.

The county’s share of the work was estimated at $80 million. The City of Fort Myers Beach’s share of its stormwater, watermain and sewer project, which also extends to side streets, will cost about $52 million.

Lee County Executive Roger Desjarlais said the project was the toughest road project the county has faced in 30 years due to unforeseen circumstances. “We started design work in 2014. Originally, this project was supposed to take 10 to 12 years,” he said. “Everyone is pretty proud of this one. This project was probably the most complicated road project that Lee County has done in the past 30 years.

Desjarlais talked about 50-foot rights-of-way with “no documentation of what was underground.”

Howard Wheeler, owner of Fort Myers-based Chris-Tel Construction, said the project faced challenges such as piping that was found under the road in unexpected areas but still ended early and under budget – which, he said. “is unusual.” contractors “Been through multiple hurricanes, been through COVID, all of those things and still finished early,” said Wheeler. “The water table here is about two feet.”

Wheeler said some of the other issues with rebuilding Estero Boulevard are that the road dates back to the 1920s. “My family has been building here since the 1920s” said Wheeler. “You have routes through the 20s, through the 50s, through the 70s, all of that hasn’t been documented.”

The company worked in collaboration with the city on its aqueduct and stormwater works.

“It was a complete success as everyone recognized these challenges and worked as a team,” said Wheeler.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy said the project “required a lot of coordination between city contractors and county contractors. He said that Chris-Tel Construction did a good job and also thanked “the workers who were in those holes, digging those pipes.“Murphy also thanked those reporting traffic during construction”to keep us safe.

Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Jim Atterholt said he walked a mile from his home to the ceremony at Charley’s Boat House and Grill “on sidewalks that did not exist before this project.”

Atterholt said he was “ecstatic” and “grateful” to the department for the works.

An outstanding issue for Estero Boulevard is how it will be lit. The county has committed $1.4 million to light 46 crosswalks along Estero Boulevard, Desjarlais said. In February, county commissioners agreed to provide $1.4 million directly to the city of Fort Myers Beach to allow the city to decide how best to light the road. The city estimates that installing amber lights along Estero Boulevard could prove more costly, although it is awaiting further study by Florida Power and Light.

“The question of lights will generate debate for some time”, Desjarlais. “It’s hard to say if additional lights will be added after (the $1.4 million for crosswalks).”

Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Bill Veach called the road “a game changer. It is now much easier to get around the island by bike or even on foot.

The city has had two fatal crashes on Estero Boulevard since December involving a car hitting a cyclist and a vehicle hitting a motorized scooter. Veach said more needs to be done to ensure bikes have lights.

Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jacki Liszak called it “a great day to see our beautiful boulevard which is now complete and functional and safe for our drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Liszak said the stormwater drainage aspects of the project improve water quality. Liszak said “a good compromise” was needed to improve the lighting on Estero Boulevard.

Clifton L. Boyd