Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Editorial: As traffic returns, what’s the cost of fixing the problem?

As holidays usher the region into its peak tourist season, travel and traffic will become words of the day.

Seasonal residents who have returned for the winter, and those living here year-round, are beginning to endure longer drive times. The question many will ask: Can’t something be done about the traffic?

Well, there are some ideas, both good and not-so-desirable, under consideration in Collier County. Can roads be widened and intersections improved to reduce traffic congestion? Certainly. But at what cost?

If you’re concerned about traffic, we suggest you pay attention to the road discussions ahead.

Naples

A study of how to better move traffic through the core of Naples, while making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, began in 2016 and has reached its final stages.

There is a long distance to travel before the recommendations become reality, or are scrapped, but the Naples City Council is split over what surely will be controversial. It’s called a “road diet.”

Those fed up with traffic in core Naples will choke over the recommendation to reduce U.S. 41 from six driving lanes to four along about a mile in the city. The “road diet” would reduce U.S. 41 to four lanes between the restaurant-shopping area of Fifth Avenue South and Seventh Avenue North, near NCH Healthcare System’s Baker Hospital Downtown.

Council members received the study’s final draft report in October. Most don’t like the idea of replacing two of the travel lanes along that stretch with street-side parking. Opinions were split, however, on keeping six driving lanes or instead reducing to four vehicle lanes while using the other two for landscaping, pedestrians and cyclists, or mass transit stops.

Consultants suggested 28 percent of the traffic now using U.S. 41 would find another north-south Naples route. Alternatives include Goodlette-Frank Road, Eighth Street and Tenth Street. We’d note those alternatives aren’t just commercial areas; there are some school zones and residential areas along those roads. Also worth noting is the additional strain of diverted traffic on Goodlette-Frank Road’s intersections at Golden Gate Parkway and U.S. 41 East.

Mayor Bill Barnett identified one high hurdle, saying the estimated $25.5 million “road diet” project cost “is a major, major concern.”

U.S. 41 is managed by the state Department of Transportation, so there are many stops ahead for this proposal. There is a February election for three council seats and this recommendation must be debated by candidates.

Collier government

Collier leaders likewise are looking for answers to their traffic management challenge, one that will require serious money and no “road diet.”

County staff is analyzing how to pay for backlogged road, bridge and intersection projects. A 2018 referendum on imposing a 1 percent local infrastructure sales tax is under consideration, as is borrowing money.

A report presented to commissioners this month listed financial shortfalls to complete a $100 million Vanderbilt Beach Road extension that would provide an east-west alternative to Immokalee Road and a $17 million widening of Airport-Pulling Road from Vanderbilt Beach Road to Immokalee Road.

Potential intersection improvements in need of more money to pay for them include $31 million for the Pine Ridge Road, Livingston Road and Whippoorwill Lane area and $14 million at Randall Boulevard. Also on the project list: $23 million to replace 11 aging bridges, potentially new bridges to improve traffic movement in Golden Gate Estates and paving 27 miles of limerock roads, along with other possible projects not related to moving traffic.

So, yes, there are road projects in the works. Paying for them is something to ponder when you’re stuck in traffic. 

Article source: http://www.naplesnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2017/11/28/editorial-traffic-returns-whats-cost-fixing-problem/900718001/