Changes likely at problematic Seaboard and Michigan intersection

Reporter: Amy Galo
Published: Updated:

Making a left turn off Seaboard Street onto Michigan Avenue is not fun for anyone.

“There’s always confrontation at that turning lane there. It’s half a turning lane and half not a turning lane,” said Nicholas La Rosa, Fort Myers resident. “20 cars get backed up early in the morning.”

Whether you’re struggling to make the left turn yourself, or are stuck behind someone who is, every driver WINK spoke to agrees: something needs to change.

There’s currently no designated left-turn lane or traffic light.

“It’s very dangerous,” said Laura Kontinos, a Fort Myers resident. “A lot of times because people aren’t paying attention.”

La Rosa said he’s witnessed some near misses, and even been a part of some himself.

“There was a few times on the way to work, I would get stuck in a turning lane halfway,” he said. “And it was almost an accident.”

Recently, some frustrated drivers have even taken to driving on the dirt along the side of Seaboard to get around cars waiting to turn left on Michigan.

“You just have to be on the ball all the time,” said Richard Schaffer, a Fort Myers resident.

So I asked city engineer Nicole Setzer: is there any fix in the works?

Turns out, the city’s already working on phase two of a traffic project that started when changes were made to First and Second Street.

“We modeled what we thought traffic was going to look like when we turned it into two-ways,” said Nicole Setzer, City Engineer with the Public Works Department.

The city is now seeing how accurate their predictions were.

“Where are those areas of concern?” said Setzer. “Where do we need a turn lane? Where do we need to widen out the lanes? That was something that we didn’t want to just go ahead and do without validating that we needed it.”

And based on what’s going on at Michigan and Seaboard, Setzer said change is likely to be expected.

“The question will be how quickly we can implement those changes,” Setzer said. “It may not be as simple as just adding some more pavement. We have a signalized intersection there. Can it handle more signal heads? Does it have the capacity for that? That’s all an engineered plan that has to be implemented as one unit.”

Of course, Setzer doesn’t have the data from the traffic study yet.

“We’ve done the traffic counts. And we’re working on the modeling, we expect that report will be into the city from the consultant in about mid July. So we still have about six weeks or so before we get that report from that.”

Then comes creating and approving a design for any changes deemed necessary.

“Depending on the extent of those improvements, we may be able to roll right into the start of those,” Setzer explained. “I would say that it’s going to be at least six to nine months before we have that design done and we can implement anything construction-wise.”

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