Improvements to be made to infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Irma | News, Sports, Jobs

Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers will benefit from $4.1 million in state grants accepted by the Lee County Board of Commissioners for repairs to infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Irma.

To Lehigh residents, that means replacement of a pedestrian bridge over the Able Canal.

The Richmond Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over the Able Canal is owned by the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District. It is a connector for students who walk to Lehigh Elementary School. The county will assume costs of routine maintenance for the bridge.

“The bridge was badly damaged by the storm and was closed off immediately,” said Lee County spokesperson Betsy Clayton. “Remains of the structure were removed shortly after the storm.”

The project cost of $678,566 includes improvements to the design and materials to ensure the new structure will meet updated hurricane code requirements.

“The current schedule, which does not yet have Florida DOE concurrence, calls for the design phase to begin in October 2022. Construction is expected to begin in late 2022, or early 2023 and will take about a year,” Clayton said.

The Department of Transportation for Lee County also will use the funds for sidewalks.

Seven neighborhoods — Palmona Park, Suncoast Estates, Beacon Manor, Charleston Park, Page Park, Pine Manor and Russel Park — will receive sidewalk repairs.

“Sidewalks were cracked by flooding and by the weight of heavy equipment as it moved through the neighborhood to restore power and utilities service and collect debris,” Clayton said.

A total of 566 square yards will be repaired for Palmona Park, at a price tag of $103,000, and 602 square yards for Suncoast Estates, which will cost $109,000.

“The current schedule, which does not yet have Florida DOE concurrence, estimates construction will begin in July 2022 and conclude by July 2023,” Clayton said.

The grant also will be used to clear vegetation debris and sediments from five canals, Baker, North, Baker South, Walmart, Cartegena and Bonita Beach, all in unincorporated Lee County.

Lee County was designated as a “Most Impacted and Distressed” Community by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure the county’s priority in receiving disaster response, as well as mitigation funding after the September 2017 storm, Hurricane Irma.

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