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DEAD END? (Will Sunshine Blvd N ever reach SR 80 in Lehigh Acres?)

Why residents are pushing so hard for an extension of what they say is a critical route.
sunshine blvd n
Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 13, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — It's a popular question in part of Lehigh Acres: will they ever extend Sunshine Boulevard to SR-80?

Sunshine Boulevard is a key artery for residents in Lehigh Acres, but it's a dead end at the intersection with 75th Street West. People who live nearby believe the road needs to be extended as soon as possible, like Carlos Fernandez.

Fernandez told Fox 4's Lehigh Acres Community Correspondent Ella Rhoades that he's in his car constantly, just to grab the necessities in life.

He says, "I have to go out to pharmacies, anything to get gas, or just a gallon of milk, or anything it creates at least a half hour one way."

The closest pharmacy to him is 3.4 miles away; however, Carlos can't drive straight to any of those locations because one road he has to take Sunshine Boulevard North comes to a dead end.

Instead, he drives ten miles further to Buckingham Road to reach State Road 80.

The Lee County Department of Transportation says the $50 million Sunshine Boulevard North extension is on its list of priorities. But, it's not high enough on that list for residents Fernandez.

In a statement to Fox 4 Lee DOT said:

The alignment for the road is not established yet. The county will work extensively with neighbors and the broader community to communicate and address any perceived issues...This is roughly three to five years away.
Lee County Department of Transportation

Mandy Rodriguez lives down the road from Fernandez and says the need for the extension is urgent

"ASAP. Now, as soon as possible," she says.

In emergencies like a brush fire, hurricane or flood, trying to get out safely could be tricky.

Rodriguez says, "It's a maze...If we had to evacuate we would run into a huge traffic problem because we're all going to have to go in the same direction to get out."

The past eight years she's lived in Lehigh Acres and says she's seen it grow.

"We're just way overcrowded. It's easier to live out here. It's cheaper and more affordable, but even here, it's becoming expensive," Rodriguez says.

Fernandez, who's only lived here a year, says this would've made him think twice before he moved.

He says, "Had my wife and I known things were like this in this area I think we really would've considered moving out here a little bit more."