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Davis Blvd to Rattlesnake Hammock now open - Santa Barbara is now longer!

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COLLIER COUNTY — There’s a new direct route in East Naples that will save Southwest Florida drivers some time and gas money. The six-lane, 2-mile Santa Barbara Boulevard extension from Davis Boulevard to Rattlesnake Hammock Road opened Monday. “I think it’s wonderful,” said Jeff Allbritten, president of the Collier campus of Edison State College in East Naples. “It’s going to finally create that grid for the north-south area.” Drivers previously traveled from U.S. 41 or Collier Boulevard to Rattlesnake Hammock Road to County Barn Road to reach Davis Boulevard then connected with Santa Barbara Boulevard to head further north. Now, drivers can use the road to access directly all the way to Immokalee Road. In addition, officials said, the new road should take traffic away from County Barn Road. “It’s going to be a good addition to help with traffic flow,” Connie Deane, spokeswoman for Collier County transportation, said. Allbritten said the extension will create the much needed connectivity. “I’m just glad to see it,” Allbritten said. “It’s really going to make access better for our students.” In addition to the six travel lanes, three lanes northbound and three lanes southbound, with a raised median separating the two sides, the roadway has on-road bike lanes as well as 6-foot wide sidewalks with curb and gutter on both sides of the roadway. A 3,200 foot Lely Area Stormwater Improvement Project canal was also built as part of the project north of Royal Wood Country Club. The county’s contractor, Astaldi Construction Corporation, began construction in December 2008. The project finished on time, yet contractors will not receive a bonus. The cost of the project was $21.4 million. Deane said the final cost is coming in within budget. The county took a green initiative for the road, which is near Shepherd of the Glades Lutheran Church, Falling Waters and Royal Wood Country Club. During the design phase, u-turns were not permitted at the intersection and drivers had to commute farther to access the Catalina Center, at the corner of Santa Barbara and Davis boulevards. However, owner of Bead it, located at 4735 Santa Barbara Blvd., Sergio Flores Jr. said, the increase in traffic near his store will also increase business. Flores said the new road is beautiful. But not every resident supports the extension. “It’s too much traffic on the street,” said Jane Ladic, who has lived on St. Andrews Boulevard in Lely Gulf Resort for 11 years. Ladic is concerned that the new extension will increase traffic St. Andrews Boulevard, fearing that it will become the cut through road. She said the street doesn’t have the capacity of other large boulevards with multiple lanes. “We are not happy with it,” said Ladic, who has been against the extension for more than five years. Yet, Deane said, drivers would find the neighborhood road inconvenient. Instead, she said, drivers could use arterial roads, such as Rattlesnake-Hammock Road. Construction crews will continue to work on punch list items and final pavement markings are also slated to be completed after the final layer of asphalt has time to cure, which takes about a month, Deane said. Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at
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Davis Blvd to Rattlesnake Hammock now open - Santa Barbara is now longer!