Commissioners in Florida's Lee County recently endorsed further analysis of a plan for the replacement of Cape Coral bridge. The $301 million plan known as "alternative 1" has received overwhelming board and public support up to this point.
The current bridge connects Cape Coral Parkway and College Parkway over the Caloosahatchee River. The westbound lane was constructed in 1963 and the eastbound span in 1989. Alternative plan 1 will give the bridge a lifespan of 75 years, which would make it part of Lee County’s future and community for a long time to come.
The area for improvement doesn’t include only the bridge, according to the Cape Coral Bridge Project website. Both the intersections of Del Prado Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway and College Parkway and McGregor Boulevard mark the westernmost and easternmost points of the project.
At the intersection between College Parkway and McGregor Boulevard, there are plans to add a free flow lane with 1,000 feet to merge into traffic for the eastbound to southbound right. The existing signal would be closed.
The bridge would go from four to six lanes to alleviate traffic, drainage ponds would be placed under the bridge and all tolls would be electronic.
"Our goal through this project was to look at how we could improve the traffic flow towards Cape Coral and coming back,” Lee County Department of Transportation Deputy Director Rob Price said at a press conference. “The intersection of Caloosa Yacht and Racquet (Drive) and College Parkway causes a major congestion issue that spills back all the way out onto McGregor Boulevard. Having this U-turn movement will allow those vehicles leaving Caloosa Yacht and Racquet to stay in the right lane, and not have to merge over.”
Currently, a project study is underway to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Commissioners voted unanimously to have the transportation staff work on alternative 1. However the option not building a new bridge will remain an option during the process.
With the study slated to end in 2024, construction of the new westbound span is planned to start in 2026. Four lanes of traffic will remain open during construction.