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.