A proposed roundabout, proposed by the Lee County Department of Transportation (DOT) for Beth Stacey Blvd. and Business Way, is drawing fire from several Lehigh Acres residents. News of the proposed roundabout, similar to the one on 23rd Street and Sunshine Boulevard, surprised local residents when it was announced late last week that the county has designed a roundabout "to improve the intersection."
Officials claim that the DOT's engineering consultant for the project, Stanely Consultants Inc., "obtained traffic volume counts and reviewed crash data for the intersection."
The consultants said there is high left-turn volume from the west and high right-turn volume from the south. They added in an email announcement to community leaders that roundabouts work well at this type of intersection, especially with single lane approaches. The public is invited to attend a public information workshop from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 at the Microtel Inn and Suites at 1320 Business Way in Lehigh. There will be no formal presentation, but county representatives will be on hand to answer questions and show illustrations of roundabouts and the one proposed for Beth Stacey Blvd. The information came from Cella Molnar & Associates of Fort Myers.
The proposed roundabout for the intersection of Beth Stacey Boulevard and Business Way and Ridgecrest Street.
Photo courtesy of Lee County Dept. of Transportation
Ruth Ann Anglickis, who is involved with One Voice for Lehigh, questioned the roundabout and asked how it would impact the Homestead Road intersection.
Kris Cella, the CEO of Cella Molnar & Associates, said the roundabout at Beth Stacey Boulevard and Business Way will not impact the Homestead Road Intersection
Cella said the Homestead Road widening from south of Sunrise to Alabama is funded for construction in fiscal year 2015/16 and it does not include a roundabout at the Alabama Road intersection. Cella said that the county is in the process of acquiring right-of-way for the widening project; the acquisition for the widening will not accommodate a roundabout at the Alabama Road and Homestead Road intersection.
Cella added that the proposed roundabout on Business Way is planned to address congestion and safety issues at that intersection only.
"The county considered a typical expanded intersection operation so the county is recommending a roundabout. Design will be completed this year and construction funding is through a minor intersection fund and would be worked into the improvement plan once design is complete, most likely in fiscal year 2012/13 or 2013/14," Cella said.
Edd Weiner, chairman of the Lehigh Acres Community Planning Corp., and who is active in other organizations in Lehigh, including chairman of the Lehigh Economic Board, is not happy about the announcement.
He said that the county has once again managed to design, fund, advertise and allegedly build something without one department talking to the other. He joins others who claim the roundabout on Beth Stacey may not be a good idea.
Weiner said that when he read the emailed announcement, he called County Planner Kathy Ebaugh to ask her opinion of the roundabout and she had "absolutely no idea of what I was talking about."
He noted that a group of about 150 to 200 people have been working diligently on the improvements to "downtown" Lehigh for about 18 months.
He told Cella: "For your information, and you might as well pass it along to the LeeDOT, since they do not talk to Lee Planning, En-Site Planning, the county's consultant planning, the county's consultant on this job, has planned a roundabout at the proposed Beth Stacey site.
He said the LACPP has never been approached by Cellar's firm nor Lee DOT to seek opinions, counseling, wishes or anything else that "might have enlightened us as to what might be planned by LeeDOT."
"But then again, I guess the voices of Lehigh Acres have never mattered, nor do we really need to be consulted, because we are just a bunch of lay people who do not know, nor understand what is going on."
He said his reaction and expressions of outrage are his own, and that he did not speak for any of the organizations he belongs to.
"To have projects 'foisted' upon us, already designed, already funded because some genius has decided there was congestion at an intersection with two existing stop signs and a residential leg of the four-way intersection, just to keep the residents of Lehigh Acres from whining about 'not getting our fair share of county money' is outrageous at best, and abusive at the very least.
"I am sure that the public hearing on the 12th of April will be a very interesting one," he said.
At the Thursday presentation, Lehigh residents will be able to voice their opinions whether they are for or against a roundabout on Beth Stacey Boulevard.
Those who attend do not have to spend the entire 90-minute presentation. They can attend at any time during the continuous presentation. Visitors will be shown plans for the roundabout and may ask questions and make comments. No formal speeches will be made by county officials.
If you think that such a roundabout is needed or is not needed on Beth Stacey Blvd., you are encouraged to attend and let county officials know.