Brent Batten: Wider Airport-Pulling Road on the horizon

Brent Batten Naples Daily NewsPublished 5:00 AM EDT Sep 17, 2020It may be a bit inconvenient come Halloween 20

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It may be a bit inconvenient come Halloween 2023, but the northernmost leg of Airport-Pulling Road is getting a makeover.

The county is set to receive a $6.4 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to help cover the cost of widening the road from Vanderbilt Beach Road to Immokalee Road. Under the grant agreement, the county will be reimbursed the amount once the work is done.

The current four lanes will become six with in-road bike lanes and additional sidewalks. Total cost of the two-mile project is expected to be about $17.6 million.

The stretch of road fronts Pelican Marsh Elementary School and entrances to the Pelican Marsh and Tiburon communities.

It is also the site of Victoria Park, the community known for going all out with its holiday decorations.

At Christmastime, cars from all over wind through the neighborhood to take in the elaborate lights and lawn ornaments.

At Halloween, it’s the go-to place for trick-or-treaters eager to hit a lot of homes adorned in the spirit of the season.

Families park along Airport-Pulling Road for hundreds of yards north and south of the entrance and hike to the enclave.

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The state grant comes mainly because the added lanes are expected to ease traffic on parallel state roads, but the added sidewalks will improve pedestrian safety as well, county staff concludes.

“Airport Road is an arterial roadway that parallels both US-41 and I-75.  By adding capacity with this project, Collier County will relieve congestion on both state highway systems.  In addition, there will also be a reduced need for road maintenance and a reduction in injuries or fatalities by providing sidewalks for pedestrians and on-street bike lanes for bicyclists, improving overall traffic operations,” a report recommending approval of the grant agreement states.

Collier County Transportation Department spokeswoman Connie Deane said construction is expected to start in the fall of 2023 and be completed by the spring of 2025.

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Deane said the transportation department will conduct neighborhood meetings to get input on the project once the design is about 30% complete so that there are "lines on paper," to show people. That could happen in the fall of 2021, she said.

The project can be completed in the existing right of way. The current median will be narrowed to accommodate the additional lanes, Deane said.

In addition to widening the road, the project will include curbs, a closed-pipe stormwater system and street lighting.

Currently, about 32,000 cars a day travel the segment of the road just north of Vanderbilt Beach Road.

On Halloween, you’d swear all of them are parked outside the gates of Victoria Park.

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