Former commissioner stresses importance of Three Oaks Parkway Extension Project

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

There is an expansion project in the works to help accommodate the booming population in Lee County and increased traffic flow.

The one hiccup is that a trust owns a chunk of the land near Fiddlesticks and Daniels, and Lee County has filed a lawsuit for eminent domain. That lawsuit is just one piece of the puzzle.

The county doesn’t just get rights to the property by filing an eminent domain lawsuit, though. Even if a judge agrees, the county must reach a financial agreement with the landowner.

After 20 years of talking about it, a former commissioner said Lee County can’t afford not to get this done now.

Nobody likes traffic, Wendy Tauscheck included. “Oh, it’s crazy right now. And we get hung up all the time.”

Traffic is only expected to worsen because Lee County’s population is growing. Former county commissioner John Albion said he has proof from the office of economic development.

“When you look at Alico to Daniel’s, which is where this extension is supposed to take place. If you use US-41 as a western terminus, and Skyplex, which is about two miles east of I-75, the number of jobs in that rectangle in 2019 was approximately 90,000 to 95,000 and is projected by 2030 to possibly be as high as 140,000, maybe even a little higher,” said Albion.

Fifty thousand additional people are going to and from that small area, so something has to change.

“The reality is, is that having these alternatives to I-75 is going to be critical for Lee County,” Albion said.

Three Oaks Extension Project. (Credit: Lee County)

“It will give us another option for our north-south access. It will help us to avoid the Daniels Fiddlesticks intersection. We don’t have to get on I-75. Just (to) head south,” said Tauscheck.

The Three Oaks Parkway Extension Project would provide another north-south option for drivers. Tauscheck said moving forward with the plan will be convenient and safe. Albion said not only that but said moving forward, the project is essential.

“Areas have to be opened up to where people can afford to live to be able to fill the jobs that we need filled,” said Albion.

For a long time, there was only US-41. Then came I-75, and now Lee County wants drivers to have another north-south option by connecting Three Oaks Parkway from Alico Road to Daniels Parkway. The plan is still on the table, with construction yet to begin 20 years after the project’s inception.

Emma: “Why does it take so long to make something like this happen? What factors go into it?”

Albion: “When there is a disagreement in the acquisition stage, for example, which is what’s going on now, the county is decided they need to use eminent domain to condemn the property. And they’re going through the process now.”

On Tuesday last week, Lee County filed for eminent domain to take possession of someone else’s property. Property that the county needs to move forward with construction.

“They must pay fair value for the property. And if there’s buildings involved, you know, other costs that might be associated,” said Albion.

That is where the hold-up is. The attorney of the trustee for the land the county needs is working on an analysis of the county’s appraisal. Like in most things, money talks.

“We hope that it goes through,” said Tauscheck.

The attorney for the trustee said if all goes well, meaning the county offers the right amount of money, the deal for the land could be done within the next 90 days.

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