ESTERO, Fla. - If you drive around Estero, you already know that traffic is heavy - and it's expected to get worse. People living along Corkscrew Road east of Interstate 75 say the combination of cars and dump trucks is too much for the two-lane road to handle. They're calling on Lee County officials to speed up widening the road, as developers plan to build another estimated 5,000 homes along the corridor.
"The traffic is really difficult right now," said Kevin Tolliver, president of the Preserve at Corkscrew Homeowners Association. "Particularly in the morning and in the evening."
Tolliver said that there are already about 5,000 homes in his and a handful of other gated communities along the two-lane stretch of Corkscrew, and anticipates that it will only get worse once the new communities are built.
"Plus, we now have two mines that are trying to get approval," he said. "The truck traffic, along with the residents, is going to be unmanageable."
Lee County does have plans to eventually widen the two-lane stretch of Corkscrew near the gated communities to four lanes. But some are afraid that the funding and construction won't happen until the new homes are already built.
"The improvement of the road is anywhere from a 5 to 7 year project," said Robert King, transportation director with the Estero Council of Community Leaders.
He said that one of the funding sources is impact fees, which developers pay to help fund the expansion of offsite improvements like roads. With so much development in the works, King believes that widening Corkscrew is an immediate need.
"We need to be focusing today on starting to make improvements to Corkscrew Road, as opposed to waiting until we get the impact fee money.
When Fox 4 reached out to Lee County officials to see where things stood with the funding for widening Corkscrew, spokeswoman Betsy Clayton wrote:
"...the county is conducting a study in the Corkscrew Road area. The study will establish future improvements, and the timing and funding will be decided by the Lee Board of County Commissioners at a future date."
Tolliver would like residents to write to commissioners, urging them not to make that date too far into the future.
"To tell them we really need to make this Corkscrew Road improvement a priority," he said.