Final Stretch Of Pine Island Road Set To Be Widened
After years of planning and talks, the stretch of Pine Island Road that runs between Chiquita Boulevard and Burnt Store Road will finally be widened to four lanes.
As early as last year the city was working with the state to fund the project. However, last year when the plan came before council, the price tag of $54 million was too high for the council to approve. After the failure of the 2010 proposal city staff went back and worked with the Florida Department of Transportation to create a new plan. The results of the new plan now have the city taking out a loan for only $14 million.
The city will utilize the State Infrastructure Bank Loan (SIB) for the $14 million and will only have to pay interest costs over the next six years to fund the road. Total interest costs for the loan will be $2.07 million.
Another positive outcome of the delayed start in the project is the fact costs for doing such construction projects have come down in price over the past couple of years. Costs for actual construction costs on the road have decreased from $16.8 million to $9.8 million. While the costs for right of way acquisitions have decreased from a projected $38 million to a projected $31 million.
The city hopes the widening of Pine Island Road will create a positive economic impact in North Cape Coral. During his presentation to the council, Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing pointed out that this area of Cape Coral is the only area in the city that will support assemblage of land for large commercial development. Over the years there have been talks of a Super Wal-Mart, a planned development from Bonita Bay and a shopping mall as potentially calling North Cape Coral home. Once completed the city projects the economic impact of the new four-lane stretch to bring the city revenues over $200 million per year with additional payroll and taxes the new businesses will bring.
Talks of widening this stretch of Pine have been ongoing over the past decade. The project also has the unique distinction of government, both city and state, working with the private sector in finding a solution, “It is great how the private and public sectors have come together over the past several years and worked together to make this a reality,” said Cape Coral Construction Industry Association Executive Director/CEO, Heather Mazurkiewicz, who has been working on the project herself since the early 2000’s.
It was all smiles at the council meeting Monday night as those who have worked to get the project completed were filled with joy and satisfaction in seeing this project finally become a reality when council gave final approval on getting the $14 million dollar from the State Infrastructure Bank Loan. “We are very excited about the completion of four laning Pine Island Road from I-75. Obviously it will make the road much safer and provide a better evacuation route for residents in the North Cape and Pine Island. The economic development the widening provides is a great opportunity for the city,” said interim Public Works Director Steve Neff.
The next step will be for the state to begin acquiring right of way land in order to break ground. It is expected this phase of the project will take the next couple of years to complete. Once the right of ways has been acquired, the state will then begin constructing the four lane stretch of road. If all things work out, the four laning of Pine Island Road should be complete between 2015 or 2016.