What does the future of transportation look like in Lee County? Recently, Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Don Scott shared what DFO is planning.
He detailed the 5-year forecast for road and bridge construction in Lee County. However, those who have lived in Lee County—indeed, anywhere in the SWFL—for more than 10 years are well aware that actual population increases in the area consistently exceed projections made 5 years earlier. However, all amounts of transportation infrastructure investment—local, state, and federal—are based on these consistently under-projected population increases.
Scott noted that the most recent example of this predicament occurred with the COVID19 pandemic:
“One of the questions we’re asked is how does that compare to traffic in the past? And obviously if you’re around the last time we had a downturn in 2006 it has dropped about 10% and everyone was like, “Oh, traffic is great. We don’t need to build anymore and people don’t move here. “Obviously we were wrong,” he said. “Again with the pandemic, people said people were going miss here and there. Meanwhile, our growth is back and we’re seeing that from a traffic perspective, when you look at historical traffic, we’re about a 6-8% increase from historical traffic.”
And it looks like Lee County will continue to experience projected population growth with insufficient funding for transportation infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Importantly, as Scott explained: “On average, it takes 10 years for a road project to be completed. Where just ten years ago building a road cost $2.5 million per mile, today it costs $4.7 million per mile.
He added: “Of course recent supply chain issues have contributed to the rise in construction costs that we are seeing today. So while the total dollars invested in transportation infrastructure have increased over the same ten years, construction costs have also increased. »