Drivers weigh in on possible solution to Colonial Boulevard gridlock traffic

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 06:49:37-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Future construction on Colonial Boulevard was hashed out Thursday night in Fort Myers, where the Florida Department of Transportation wanted to get feedback about three possible designs to stop crashes and congestion along the busy Southwest Florida road.

Southwest Floridians that attended FDOT's Open House complained about being stuck at one of Colonial Boulevard's red lights in a sea of traffic near Interstate 75.

"In the wintertime, when everyone from the north comes down, it takes like a week to get through what normally takes ten minutes," said Neville Barrett, who lives near the strip of road that FDOT hopes to bring into the future.

FDOT wanted to hear some feedback from Barrett and others who showed up on a project they say will cut down on both congestion and collisions.

"What do they think about, what are their concerns," said Zach Burch, from the Florida Department of Transportation. "We are also here to answer their questions because we know it might be complicated since these are new to the area," he added.

People paying close attention to the three new designs that drivers hope will make their commutes easier, but the graphs were intimidating.

"It's a jumble. I understand what they are saying, but how it will physically work is still not solidified in my head," said Barrett.

FDOT representatives took the time to speak with Barrett and others in depth about the designs. They drove the point home by explaining how the diverging diamond will make traffic safer.  "This is really a game changer," said Burch on the diverging diamond. The second that will be coming to the Sunshine State, after Sarasota opened the first last month along University Parkway.

FDOT says the $45 million  project includes two other big-time changes to keep traffic cruising.

"The other designs are designed to make sure the traffic can continue moving and getting away from the interstate," said Burch. "That's not only going to benefit the interstate but traffic as well," he added.

The major hurdle drivers will have to deal with will be construction. Drivers don't mind trading those headaches for a solution to this ever growing problem.

"I would rather deal with the construction knowing that in a year or two this whole situation will be alleviated," said Jim Martin, who has the seen the congestion grow in the area the past fourteen years. "Are we going to suffer? We are suffering now," he added.

FDOT says they'll be plenty of signage and badges around the roadways, so drivers shouldn't worry about getting through it. Right now the project is still in the planning stages. FDOT hopes to begin construction in 2019.