Part of McGregor Blvd. closing Monday as part of paving project

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

On Monday, July 8, Llewellyn Drive to Larchmont Avenue on McGregor Boulevard will close as part of a City of Fort Myers Public Works Department paving project.

This is also the Portion of McGregor Boulevard fronting the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

It will soon be ripped up, repaired and given a new look.

The project is expected to be completed within 10-12 weeks, and construction will be completed Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weather permitting.

The project started 18 months ago and will now be moving to the construction phase, which involves milling the existing asphalt roadway of McGregor Boulevard and replacing it with brick pavers.

The city said the brick will bring a more historic look to the street, similar to downtown Fort Myers. The other positive: they hope it will slow down speeders.

Everyone WINK News spoke to is excited about the final product, but not the road closure.

“McGregor Boulevard is kind of the heart and soul of Southwest Florida,” Councilman Liston Bochette of the City of Fort Myers said.

A beach path and history-driven road is getting an upgrade.

“It was originally a cattle drive to get the beef to the docks to get them to ship north and later was paved by Tootie McGregor. It was named after her and Mr. Edison donated a lot of the palm trees. It has really become the identity of Southwest Florida and what we call the City of Palms,” Bochette said.

It’s a familiar route for many, including Pastor Jim Harper III.

“I would imagine that McGregor is going to be backed up for a while, and we’ve already discussed what we’re going to do,” Pastor Harper said.

He is making a plan because his church, the Thomas A. Edison Congregational Church, is right in the middle of construction starting Monday. It’s a small stretch but one a heavily trafficked road that will impact houses, businesses, and church gatherings.

“We will send out an email tomorrow on Saturday letting our congregants know, and that this will begin Monday won’t affect this Sunday. We will rely on social media and email, and then also as much word of mouth as possible,” Pastor Harper said.

The city has listed several detours:

  • The eastbound/northbound detour will redirect traffic off McGregor Boulevard at Linhart Avenue, continuing to Cortez Boulevard, Monte Vista Street, Marilyn Road/Euclid Avenue and Illinois Avenue, returning to McGregor Boulevard.
  • The westbound/southbound detour will redirect traffic from McGregor Boulevard at Virginia Avenue, continuing to Euclid Avenue/Marilyn Road, Monte Vista Street, Cortez Boulevard, and Linhart Avenue, returning to McGregor Boulevard.

WINK News Reporter Olivia Jean asked the Pastor if the road closure may impact people showing up.

“It might deter some of our folks that would rather not have that hassle,” Pastor Harper said. He says luckily, they livestream their ceremonies.

You’ll soon see brick instead of pavement.

“There’s two values to having a brick road; One is the maintenance is a lot less. Asphalt lasts 10 years and brick lasts 50 years. So, if you’re putting a million dollars into one or the other, your best investment is return on the brick more so that it draws the aesthetic value. You’re now in a very, very monumentally historic area,” Councilman Bochette said.

The project isn’t just starting. It’s been a work in progress for the past 18 months, with this road closure planned a year in advance.

The 18-month project has made progress.

“All the infrastructure is planned by the engineers, the identifications of what’s underground has been identified and all the bricks have been purchased. So, there are warehouses and it’s just a matter of making it happen,” Councilman Bochette said.

Come Monday, it is time for the road closure to finish the project.

“We will have a new surface that we’ll all get used to and it will be nostalgic,” Harper said.

“It’s going to be a short period of time. I mean, relatively short, compared to the 120 years this road has been here, you can sacrifice three months to improve it,” Councilman Bochette said.

The Ford and Edison Winter Estate told WINK News they are staying open.

Pedestrian sidewalks will not be affected by project construction and the same goes for the crosswalk at the Estate.

The project costs 1.3 million. “It’s just not for brick. That’s for all the piping, water, electricity, everything that goes on pouring the faces, repairing the curbs, sidewalks, it’s a large project and it’s very cost-effective to think that we’re going to get this done this summer and having it ready for the season will be a big benefit to the estates,” Councilman Bochette said.

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