Traffic backups should be alleviated on Corkscrew Road at the Interstate 75 interchange within the next two years. Representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will present plans for interim improvements to the Village Council and members of the public on Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
The Department anticipates beginning construction of the $6 million project during the spring of 2019. These interim improvements are expected to keep the interchange at an acceptable level of service through 2029 or beyond.
Improving the Corkscrew Road interchange has long been on FDOT’s radar. During the pre-recession housing boom, FDOT was considering a complete redesign which was estimated to cost $120-150 million, notes FDOT Systems Planning Administrator Lawrence Massey. That plan was put on hold in 2008 after new construction dramatically dropped off and growth models changed. With the recent uptick in growth, FDOT once again began exploring possibilities for long-term improvement of the Estero interchange; however, there was no designated funding and the earliest the complete reconstruction of the interchange may have begun was around 2025. Since Corkscrew Road is not a state road (it’s maintained by Lee County), the State was largely unaware of the severity of traffic backups for the on-ramps, explains Massey — off-ramps continued to function properly causing no issue for interstate traffic.
However, those who live in Estero (or visit during the evening rush hour) are keenly aware of the issue. The Village of Estero and the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) both requested that FDOT study the situation.
“About a year ago, the Village came to us, and we found we had a real problem,” says Massey.
Something needed to be done before 2025, especially with increased traffic projected to come from several new residential communities being built along east Corkscrew Road. FDOT determined an interim improvement plan would be the best solution. This plan adds an additional left turn lane for both entrance ramps (northbound and southbound I-75). It also extends the length of merge lanes for on-ramps by a quarter-mile. Lighting improvements are also part of this project, notes Massey.
“This improvement will actually buy us a lot of time,” he adds. “It will save the taxpayers over $120 million and get an improvement on the ground in the next two years.”
FDOT still plans to redesign the interchange in the future, but the interim improvements will help keep traffic flowing for many years to come. Improvements at the I-75 interchange also may have a positive impact on other stressed arteries, particularly the intersection of Three Oaks Parkway at Corkscrew Road. This intersection has been identified as among the most problematic intersections within the Village of Estero. The recent Area-Wide Traffic Study, conducted by Village consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates, determined that the dual eastbound left turn lanes on Three Oaks Parkway (toward I-75) are inadequate to handle traffic during the evening peak hour.
The Village is planning improvements for many transportation “problem areas” identified in the study, and Lee County has improvements planned along Corkscrew Road. Additional turn lanes at the I-75 interchange and extended time to merge will reduce traffic backups and provide a more efficient experience for Estero drivers in the near future.
Florida Department of Transportation Presentation
Estero Village Council Chambers
Thursday, Sept. 7
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The Village of Estero
9401 Corkscrew Palms Circle
Estero, Florida 33928