Reducing Congestion in Lee County, Florida

Policy Study

Reducing Congestion in Lee County, Florida

Cutting traffic in one of America's fastest growing urban areas

Traffic congestion in fast-growing Lee County, Florida, is expected to worsen dramatically in the coming decades. And the current long-range transportation plan does not adequately address those needs, according to a new Reason Foundation study.

The Reason Foundation report finds Lee County needs 488 new lane miles of road capacity by 2030 to handle population growth and eliminate severe congestion in the region. The study concludes that this can be accomplished by making all new lanes planned for I-75 variably-priced toll lanes and providing modestly-priced tolled overpasses at major intersections on key arterials. The overpasses, or “queue jumps,” would allow drivers to bypass stoplights in exchange for paying tolls.

The total cost of the new road capacity proposed by the Reason Foundation study is $5.7 billion, nearly all of which could be funded without taxpayer dollars using the projected toll revenues. The time savings resulting from reduced traffic congestion along with lower operating costs and fewer accidents would save the area $13.25 billion over 20 years. Thus, the savings would be 2.33 times as large as the investment.

The proposed queue jumps would not toll existing arterial roads, but would build new overpasses or underpasses along busy corridors like Cypress Lake Drive/Daniels Parkway. The study examined that corridor in detail, identifying specific queue jumps and estimating their costs. The entire corridor would cost $277 million to build. The “net present value” of toll revenues is estimated at $285 million, suggesting such corridors could be self-supporting.

Attachments

Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation.

Chris Swenson, president of CRSPE, Inc., has been involved in numerous aspects of transportation engineering and planning for 23 years. Mr. Swenson is nationally known for his
work in the development of market-based transportation demand management programs, particularly variably priced tolls. He has personally supervised Project Development and Environment (PD&E) studies, the development of area-wide master plans, and large transportation corridor planning projects, as well as traditional and non-traditional transportation financing projects. While much of Mr. Swenson's experience is in his home state of Florida, he has also supervised or participated in transportation studies in California, Nevada, Texas, Oregon, Virginia and Arizona. Mr. Swenson has authored multiple papers and has presented at numerous conferences including the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, annual meetings of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the annual meeting of ITS America, and the ITS World Congress. Mr. Swenson received a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree in 1984 from the Georgia Institute of Technology followed by a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, also from the Georgia Institute of Technology, in 1985. Mr. Swenson is a registered engineer in the state of Florida.