Avalon Engineering

Serving Southwest Florida Since 1980

Bonita Beach Road Widening

American Public Works Association  

Public Works Project of the Year Awards: Transportation
Bonita Beach Road Phase II Improvements

Replacing two bridges in two miles required by road project

Project Manager: Lee County Public Works Department of Transportation Prime Contractor: Guyman Construction of Florida, Inc. Prime Consultant: Avalon Engineering, Inc.

Locals are calling the award-winning  Bonita Beach Road  project the "most complicated road improvement project in Lee County (Florida) history" and its "most successful." 

The $9.6 million project, a joint effort between Lee and Collier counties, involved expanding a two-mile stretch of two-lane road that included not one but two existing bridges, into a four-lane divided arterial with a landscaped median. 

Additionally, the project included an upgrading of existing utilities. 

Since contractors had to contend with both vehicular (it serves as a hurricane evacuation route) and marine traffic, it was important to remain on schedule. This was done utilizing project management software as well as a series of regular job site meetings. 

Environmental endeavors included construction of offsite tidal wetlands, planting mangroves along the mean high water line, and regular turbidity tests to assure pollutants were being kept out of the bay, which was home to several endangered species, including the manatee. 

The delicate balance of the water environment made stormwater management a major concern. Discharges into the bay required pretreatment of pavement runoff. This was accomplished with the use of exfiltration trenches. 

Regular meetings with the public, most notably the impacted businesses, and the use of a frequently updated electronic message board kept the public informed. 

To minimize potential conflict between the counties and the utilities involved, a single contract with a prime contractor was used. Each utility paid for the construction costs for each's respective systems. 




Southwest Florida is a haven for tourist from all over the world.  It is the place to vacation for the mid-western and eastern national tourist, the interstate tourists and most recently, the European tourists.  The main reason that they come is our quality of life.  At the top of the list of elements making up the quality of life is our beaches and beach resorts.   Bonita and Fort Myers Beaches are among the best in the world.  Good access to these beaches is paramount for this element to perform as a   tourist attraction.  The transportation routes to and from these attractions must be safe, free flowing, and operational under the threat of a natural disaster such as a hurricane.   The widening of Bonita Beach Road from a narrow two-lane facility to a four-lane divided highway, connecting the beach to a major arterial roadway and an interstate highway, is one of Southwest Florida’s top projects of the century.  

This APWA award-winning project of the year for 1998 was one of the most complicated and yet most successful roadway improvement projects in our history.  There were two counties involved in the project due to the fact that the roadway centerline was also the county line.  There were two bridges to be replaced. There were two sets of utilities running in the right-of-way.  There were private dwellings and businesses that could not be touched, inconvenienced or hampered during construction.  The maintenance of traffic was crucial for beach access and hurricane evacuation during construction.  The bay that was to be crossed with the new alignments was extremely sensitive and harbored many endangered species such as the Manatee. 

The project called for filling the bay bottom to form a wider causeway on which to place the new divided roadway section.  This would enable the many residents living along the corridor to remain untouched.  The roadway section was altered as it moved through the different zoning districts designated by both county governments.  The utility companies and county governments agreed to use one single contractor to perform utility up-grades and relocations as well as the roadway construction.  The two existing bridges remained for maintenance of traffic, while their replacements were being constructed.   Drainage was no easy task.  Pretreatment of storm water run-off is required for all Florida projects.  The task at hand was to find a place to pre-treat the storm water, before discharging it into the adjacent tidal waters.  The roadway embankment itself was the only source of land available for pre-treatment. An ex-filtration system was employed using specially graded filter materials to remove pollutants from the storm water prior to its being discharged into the sensitive ecosystem. 

 Special signage and electronic message boards were employed for the businesses along the route so that patrons new how to access these businesses at all times.  Each time the detour routes changed a new set of signs were produced and message boards were up-dated.  The neighborhoods along the route were constantly being informed of the progress and what to expect as construction proceeded.  The two county governments worked closely together during design and construction to insure continuity and compromised when necessary to insure the schedule was maintained.  

The environmental mitigation was handled with a very unique method, never before used by county government.  “Mitigation Banking” was employed to mitigate the filling of the bay bottom.  This method of environmental mitigation consists of buying credits in a remote site, called the “Mitigation Bank”, where the same of environment is being created or enhanced for a defined sum of money per acre.  The number of credits purchased is reflective of the quality of the environment being destroyed by the project in question.   This form of mitigation is the most effective for all parties involved and the least costly in the final analysis.   

This project has been heralded as a complete success in every way.  The management team employed “Partnering” throughout the project. This is a process where the consultant, governments (owner) and contractor mutually agree to work closely with one another heading off problems before they occur.  They essentially agree to agree.  In furthering this relationship the county budgets a pool of contingency money within the project cost for those unforeseen items that are inherent in most projects. Key (owner) field representatives and project managers spend this pool of money on an as needed basis.  This eliminates costly delays caused by change order approvals and any post project litigations.  Money unspent is used for other county projects or project enhancements and dedications.

This project is truly been an enhancement to the quality of life in Lee and Collier Counties.  Our economic lifeblood, tourism, has also been improved. Minimizing the travel time to and from the coastal attractions has enhanced the tourist stay in our region.   The route has been made safe to travel by all motorists.  Most important however, the roadway improvement has elevated its status as a true evacuation route for the residents in the event of our most common natural disaster “the Hurricane”. 

The project was completed on time and under budget at $9.6 million dollars.  The tourist season and a hurricane threat had little impact on construction time or expense of the project.  The project was lead by Lee County Public Works Department of Transportation, designed by Avalon Engineering, Inc. and constructed by Guyman Construction of Florida, Inc.