Johnson Engineering provided the roadway design for Michael G. Rippe Parkway (SR 739) in south Fort Myers, Florida. This new 2.3 mile, six-lane divided highway extended Metro Parkway at Gladiolus Drive, south to Alico Road and U.S. 41, as well as reconfigured the Alico/US 41 intersection. This project was one of our most complex Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) assignments to date. The S.R. 739 roadway was a politically and environmentally sensitive issue, as it was the last planned crossing of Six Mile Cypress Slough. It was a significant design challenge due to the southerly connection to two other major roadways, U.S. 41 and Alico Road, an I-75 connector, all in close proximity. The project also included additional water quality standards, a bridge over an existing Seminole Gulf Railroad and the filling of existing 40’ deep borrow pits, as well as the design of two animal crossings. The crossings were part of a final mitigation plan we developed, which included a joint agreement worked out between the FDOT, the county and agencies whereby funds will be transferred to the county to remove exotics from Six Mile Cypress Slough. This plan saved the FDOT more than one million dollars when compared against the cost of paying for mitigation.
What We Provided
This project was led by our transportation team. We provided the roadway design for this 2.3 miles of new six lane sub-urban roadway, relocation of 1.5 miles of new four lane urban roadway, lighting, signalization, bike lane, pedestrian crossing, landscaping, a complex interchange and a 880 feet bridge spanning both an existing roadway and the Seminole Gulf Railroad track.
This corridor traverses the environmentally sensitive Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, making the permitting of these improvements a tremendous challenge. Our environmental team performed the wetland delineations, protected species analysis, and all associated environmental permitting. Our ecologists also designed and coordinated the mitigation efforts, including multiple wildlife crossings and a joint project agreement between FDOT and Lee County that provided the County with funding to enhance Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve by removing exotic vegetation and installing native wetland plantings, while saving FDOT over $1,000,000 compared to purchasing credits from a wetland mitigation bank.
Our team provided landscaping design for the project including landscaped buffers adjacent to existing residential areas, as well as the landscape and irrigation construction oversight and final acceptance oversight. Our team also designed a temporary irrigation system to support the landscape installation until the end of the landscape establishment period.
The biggest challenge on this project was the water management and corresponding permitting. Originally designed for a dry detention water management system, in the middle of the permitting process the SFWMD changed the requirements to require nutrient removal evaluated per the Harper method. No longer recognizing dry detention, wet ponds were not an option as the ROW simply was not available. By designing a wick system to enhance percolation we were able to convert the dry detention to a true retention system and obtain the permit, saving considerable time and money.
Our surveying and mapping team provided all surveying aspects of the project including obtaining existing topography, bathymetry on the existing borrow lake, confirming ROW and property lines and preparing the ROW maps and Sketch and Descriptions in support of the ROW acquisition process.
Our utility team provided design and permitting for the relocation of existing water main, and force main facilities along the project corridor.