BY Katy Hoover
Did you know that the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LAMSID) owns, operates 22 bridges in Lehigh Acres? Yes, it is true. LAMSID’s expansive infrastructure is a crucial element to protecting, serving, and bettering the Lehigh Acres community. Our water management system is crucial in moving water to meet varying conditions and needs is essential to sustaining the local environment. However, it is our complex network of culvert-crossings, bridges, and roadways which work to make accessibility easier for residents within Lehigh Acres. Our stormwater treatment areas provide ideal recreation spots for residents and visitors alike, while providing necessary drainage and flood control. Perhaps the most notable bridge in the District’s ownerships is at Williams Ave. crossing over Able Canal. This bridge was built by the District in 1992 to enhance the District’s maintenance access and quickly became a popular route for residents, cutting commuting time. It is LAMSID, not Lee County who is charged with the maintenance of these 22 bridges.
The oldest bridge in our network was built in 1964, while the newest bridge was built in 1994. Connectivity for maintenance and as a community benefit is outlined in our enabling legislation (298.24 and 298.25). Population growth, time and budget constraints take a heavy toll on shared resources. Every state across America is faced with a growing need to replace aging infrastructure. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases a report card on the state of America’s infrastructure. In the latest released report (2016), Florida was issued a mediocre C grade based on a variety of infrastructure factors. Worse, this grade was lower than Florida’s assessment four years earlier.
Florida is projected to become the third-most populous state in the nation, heightening the importance of investing in smart infrastructure solutions, so the ever-growing community of Lehigh Acres is not alone in the need to proactively plan to improve and replace aging infrastructure.
Every two years, the State of Florida inspects all bridges in the state and furnishes a report to each owner which provides an evaluation of each structure and states recommendations and required improvements for public safety. In addition, staff conducts in-house inspections of our infrastructure to ensure public safety.
LAMSID’s Board of the Commissioners as a whole will be discussing this issue at upcoming meetings. “The District is focused on proactive planning for our community’s future. Public safety is a top priority and ensuring an approved plan and finances are in place in the event of bridge damage by incident or accident is key,” stated Hoover.