FDOT narrows State Road 29 choices

Joshua Jester (left), Project Manager with FDOT, speaks with Immokalee residents about the proposed SR 29 bypass project. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced last week that the options to improve State Road 29 in Immokalee have been narrowed to a few choices.

Although there were several variations on the table last year, FDOT representatives said that due to public comment and research done thus far, only four options remain on the table.

In the end, previously considered options were deemed not to be in the best interest of the community based on a number of factors.

The first option would have simply widened and improved the current State Road 29 roadway along Main Street and North 15th Street. That option was eliminated after FDOT determined that a significant number of businesses along Main Street would be impacted. The cost and time to complete the project were also taken into consideration.
The second option allowed for State Road 29 to turn west just south of Immokalee before heading north again and crossing over the western end of Lake Trafford Road. Eventually, State Road 29 would have connected to State Road 82. Although this option was considered favorable for some residents who live west of Carson Road, it was eliminated as FDOT would have been on the hook for purchasing and demolishing several homes to make way for the new bypass. Additionally, Lake Trafford Elementary School would have been directly impacted.

The third option that is no longer on the table would have brought the new bypass to the east of the Immokalee Airport before turning west and connecting with the existing State Road 29 just south of State Road 82. Although this option was seen as the best choice given the minimal cost and time needed to complete the project, it was eliminated due to the environmental impact it would have around Immokalee.

Residents, business owners, and visitors now have three improvement options on the table.

Central Alternative #1 Revised improves the north and south end of State Road 29. The option would also improve New Market Road as part of the bypass project. However, this option also calls for the bypass to then travel along Madison Avenue West before turning to the northwest and running parallel to Madison Ave West. The bypass would then run behind the Marion E. Fether Clinic and connect to the existing State Road 29 segment just north of Westclox Street. This option would directly impact 13 business parcels and one residential parcel.

Central Alternative #2 improves the north and south end of State Road 29 just as the first option does, however, this option creates a bypass that starts near the corner of County Road 846 East and State Road 29. The bypass would directly impact the existing park on Main Street East as it would turn to the north along Airways Road traveling behind Immokalee Fire Station 30. The roadway would travel slightly to the north of the State Farmer’s Market, cross Alachua Street, head northwest and run parallel to Madison Avenue West before connecting to the existing State Road 29 segment north of Westclox Street. This option would only impact eight business parcels. No residential parcels would be impacted.

Central Alternative #3 Revised is similar to Central Alternative 2 in that the bypass would start near County Road 846 East and State Road 29, but instead of running parallel to Madison Avenue West, this option would create a true bypass and head north through existing farmland. The bypass would then connect to the existing segment of State Road 29 just north of Westclox Street. This option would impact nine business parcels and much like the Central Alternative #2 option, no residential parcels would be impacted.

All three options would have some noise impact, however, Central Alternative #1 has the most significant impact when it comes to noise abatement along Madison Avenue West.

In addition to the three improvement options, FDOT says that the last option still on the table is not to improve the existing State Road 29 corridor and simply conduct planned maintenance as needed.

If residents choose one of the three improvement options, FDOT will begin looking at how to maintain the flow of traffic on the north and south ends of the bypass. In lieu of using traditional intersections, FDOT is looking at potential for roundabouts to be used. A number of different roadway types are also being looked at with the ability for each to provide some form of pedestrian access.

FDOT Project Manager Gwen Pipkin said that if all goes as planned, the current PD&E study should be wrapped up by March of 2019. It’s anticipated that FDOT will hold another public workshop in 2018 once one of the three improvement options left is eliminated.

Because funding has only been approved for the study, it may be five to seven years before residents see construction begin.

Other projects in the area include the widening of State Road 29 from State Road 82 to the Hendry County line which is currently in the design phase. FDOT is estimating that this project will cost $3,100,000. In 2016, FDOT began the design phase of widening State Road 82 from Gator Slough Lane to State Road 29. While the initial costs were estimated to be below $29 million, more recent estimates place construction costs at around $37 million.

For more information on the State Road 29 bypass project in Immokalee, please visit www.sr29collier.com.

Travis can be reached at ibnews@newszap.com

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