Thursday, December 2, 2021

“The Washboard” to Continue to Plague Motorists For Foreseeable Future



By Don Manley

Drivers who have traveled State Route-County Route 951 near the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge are no doubt familiar with “the washboard.”

It’s that section of roadway, not from the bridge, that appears to be smooth to the eye. But the reaction of a vehicle’s tires and suspension quickly makes clear to motorists that appearances are deceptive when traveling that section of roadway.

The tale-tale sign is an undulating feeling caused by virtually imperceptible waves in the pavement. The condition is especially noticeable at night, when headlights can be seen wavering up and down in the darkness.

Unfortunately, the dual construction projects on State Route-County Route 951, also known as Collier Boulevard, do not include repairing and resurfacing that section of roadway.

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, whose district includes Marco, is hopeful that matter will be corrected in the not too distant future.

Those projects are the U.S. 41 – State Route-CR 951 Intersection Capacity Improvement Project, which is being handled by Collier County, and the Florida Department of Transportation’s SR 951 Resurfacing, Repair and Rehabilitation Project.

Fiala said she mentioned “the washboard” to local FDOT officials when they attended a meeting a county Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.

“I said I sure hope the work goes all the way past “the washboard,” said Fiala. “I was telling them about it and they said, ‘No, it won’t go that far. I said, ‘I sure wish you would.’ ”

Carmen Monroy, director of FDOT’s Southwest Florida area office in Bartow, and Debbie Tower, the now-retired public information officer for FDOT’s Ft. Myers office, visited one week later and drove the roadway with Fiala.

“We all went for a ride on the washboard and they could see the cars going bump, bump, bump and I said, ‘Maybe you could try to convince them (FDOT) to go just a little bit further,’ ” said Fiala. “I did call them and tell them I hope it will be included, when you come back to finish the road and they said yes. I hope it will be soon.”

JoAnn May, a communications specialist with FDOT’s Southwest Florida office, said the agency’s maintenance staff examined pavement condition on the section of roadway and, “Although there are areas of rough pavement, staff let us know the pavement is sound and doesn’t need to be resurfaced yet. We will continue to monitor this section of roadway.”

The Resurfacing Project extends about three miles, from just south of Fiddler’s Creek Parkway, to Tower Road, located just south of U.S. 41. The project includes milling and resurfacing the roadway; widening paved shoulders; designating bike lanes with pavement markings and signs, traffic signal upgrades at the East Naples Fire Station and Manatee Road intersections, adding a signalized pedestrian crossing at Manatee Road intersection and more.

The county’s Intersection Capacity Improvement Project stretches about one quarter mile north and south of U.S. 41, on State Route-CR 951, and about one quarter mile east and west on U.S. 41. The project includes realigning the intersection to remove an existing skew and adding bicycle lanes, sidewalks and a 10-foot shared use pathway on the east side of Collier Boulevard that will connect to the FDOT improvements on US 41.

Both projects are being done through a Joint Participation Agreement between the county and FDOT, which is FDOT is reimbursing the county for approximately $16 million of the approximately $20 million construction cost.

“The projects are progressing well and there is a chance that the projects could be completed as early as this fall said Connie Deane, the community liaison for the Collier County Growth Management Department.

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