SR 29 changes in the works

Florida Department of Transportation is responding to complaints and suggestions from Hendry County residents and officials regarding the long-awaited widening of SR 29 south of LaBelle.

District 3 County Commissioner Mitch Wills said plans are being changed to better accommodate the intersection at SR 29 and N. Industrial Loop.

County Engineer Shane Parker explained the new layout this way:

The northernmost driveway to Porterfield Oil will be removed, leaving only one driveway connection to SR29.

Rodeo Drive will have a full median opening to SR29. There will be two driveway connections made on the north side of Porterfield Oil to Rodeo Drive allowing vehicles traveling southbound on SR29 to access Porterfield Oil from Rodeo Drive.

Vehicles exiting Porterfield Oil may use Rodeo Drive to access SR29 and turn south if they so choose without having to do a U-turn on SR29.

Vehicles exiting Porterfield Oil can use the southernmost driveway connection to SR29 or Rodeo Drive to access SR29 and head northbound.

With the help of local residents, Commissioner Wills and County Engineer Shane Parker have worked hard to impress the hazards of limited access to that intersection and others. FDOT’s plans would have adversely affected farm trucking between LaBelle and Immokalee as well as area businesses and local traffic. Original plans would have been detrimental to road safety as well as driven up business costs over time.

Intersections at SR 29 and Case and Evans Roads are also potential trouble areas but have not been addressed as yet and Commissioner Wills said he knows of no plans to change them into one-way roads, as has been rumored.

In addition, Commissioner Wills said he has serious concerns about the roundabout planned for SR 29 and Cowboy Way. Drivers have a difficult enough time dealing with the four-way stop there, he said, and hopes FDOT will reconsider that also. He fears that school buses would not be able to handle a roundabout easily.

“FDOT is starting to work with us,” he said. “The key is to engage people. It’s a process.”

For the county’s part, he also said the dirt road leading off SR 29 to the animal shelter, is to be paved and county roads are constantly being analyzed and tended as money becomes available.

Fort Denaud Road is to be paved and slightly widened by the county and the long-awaited Helms Road Extension is expected to be open to traffic by the end of the year. One problem causing the long wait for Helms Road Extension is that the base material had to be redone.

County roadwork is coming along well and the five-year road plan for the entire county is progressing, he noted. The commissioner said he is looking forward to working with the Cities of LaBelle and Clewiston to compliment the county’s total road and infrastructure for expected growth. In addition, the county has been working with the School Board and Glades County to expedite and maximize local residents’ opportunities at the Glades County Regional Training Center.

The county has been steadily trying to improve maintenance at its parks. Davis-Pratt users are enjoying better drainage and will soon have an improved parking lot.

For years residents have looked forward to the promise of the Sports Park on Forrey Drive. It should one day become a real asset to the area – an entertainment and economic draw.

A joint effort with the City of LaBelle, city residents are assessed annually an additional $25 to directly benefit the Sports Park and the county is always seeking additional state funding.

People using Bob Mason Park, off CR 78 north of the river, are enjoying new amenities thanks to the efforts of the LaBelle Recreation Board. Lovely pavilions, gazebos and grills, a small playground, restroom, benches and even a floating dock with several slips have brightened up the area.

“The BOCC is seeking input from the public,” Commissioner Wills said, adding that their response is welcome, and comparing it to a “report card.”

Commissioner Wills said he is using his platform trying to Inform people properly of county business, trying to help create a place for people to get where they want to be.

In his second year as a county commissioner, he said he is proud of helping to enhance the information sources available to residents. Residents can now stream county meetings instead of having to take the time to actually physically be at a certain place and time. The commission is also seeking ways to improve feedback, he added.

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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