The City of Sanibel is dropping its lawsuit against Lee County - in exchange for an attempt to lower discount tolls on the causeway. The Lee County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a settlement agreement with Sanibel Tuesday. It ends a more than year-long court battle over construction of a new causeway. Last November, County officials doubled general tolls on the causeway from 3 to 6-dollars…and raised the discount toll from 50 cents to $3. They claim delays caused by litigation drove up construction costs. Tuesday’s settlement hinged on Lee County agreeing to devote its share of surplus toll revenues to construction costs. The City of Sanibel recently voted to do the same. Lee County Commissioner – Bob Janes – whose district includes Sanibel – says the agreement aims to reduce construction costs, and therefore tolls.
“What both sides are shooting at is a 30 percent reduction in the tolls. Now bear in mind that’s not a firm figure…and the reason for that is because we don’t quite know what the reduction will be…and we can’t place ourself in a position of saying we’re going to reduce the tolls 30 percent and we’re only able to reduce them 29 percent for example…because that would open up a whole new range of discussions and argumentations and things like that.”
Janes says any reduction wouldn’t take effect until November…and the final amount will be based on final construction costs. He adds now that the lawsuit’s been settled, County officials can pursue permanent funding for causeway construction. Commissioners also unanimously approved a plan for variable pricing on the causeway. Lee County Commissioner John Albion says variable tolls would encourage businesses to help relieve traffic by allowing employees to arrive at off-peak times.
“I hope that there’s going to be an effort towards understanding flex-time…that the employer can really help out the employee by trying to give the employee the opportunity to arrive at work and leave work at times that they can get the discount. It also will be set up, if it does go forward, at times when there’s greater ability for the roads to handle traffic. Which is what the whole concept is…and it’s worked very well in Cape Coral and the Fort Myers side for those people who use those bridges.”
Albion says variable tolls would help relieve pressure on both Periwinkle Avenue on Sanibel and Summerlin Road in Fort Myers.
Wednesday, 02 March 2005 00:00