By Katy Hoover
In the last 30 years, Lehigh Acres has grown and changed in so many facets. If you are a long-time resident, you may remember the days when accessing the Lehigh Acres Community Park on Williams Ave. for a Little League or Pop Warner game, meant making a loop from Lee Blvd, to Richmond Ave.
Fifth Street, or parking your car in a grassy lot and walking a foot bridge across Able Canal.
The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LAMSID), built the Williams Ave. bridge in the 1990’s to enhance community connectivity and enhance access for maintenance of canals, waterways, etc. Lehigh Acres MSID owns 22 bridges in Lehigh Acres. The oldest bridge is nearly 60 years old and our newest bridge is nearly 30 years old.
Bridges are more than just infrastructure, they are an important component of economic and social activities; they reduce the number of miles traveled and increase mobility as well as help to reduce congestion and improve road safety. As Lehigh Acres’ population continues to grow, the stress on our bridges and roadways increases. Given that there are so many canal crossings in our community, that are bridges a rupture in any one of them would cause community havoc. In the development of our community the construction and maintenance as well as eventual replacement of our 22 bridges IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LEE COUNTY GOVERNMENT. This responsibility rests with the Lehigh Municipal District.
Lehigh Acres MISD is a multi-county, multifaceted Special District Agency. From roads and bridges, to a stormwater management system comprised of lakes, canals, and complex monitoring equipment; to parks and passive recreation, to community projects, the Board of Commissioners guides the agency in a direction best suited to help the communities in which it serves. These services are funded through an annual, non ad valorem assessment –which is based on the size of your property not its value.
Lehigh Acres MSID, through the efforts of dedicated elected officials and employees, delivers the highest quality in services; provides a fair and orderly system of governance; and protects the area’s environmental and community resources. LA-MSID is dedicated to preserving and managing natural and community resources by providing: safe, reliable, and high-quality services to its constituents in an environmentally and financially responsible manner.
The Board of Commissioners has approved a bridge study to look at our infrastructure and make a proactive plan for repairs, maintenance and upkeep of bridges. As storms grow stronger, and the population numbers in Lehigh Acres continue to grow. When a majority of the bridges were built the community population was close to 25,000 and now that number is estimated to be near 123,000. As time moves on, the need for proactive planning increases. The Board of Commissioners is planning for disaster and a continuation of population growth for Lehigh Acres by considering an assessment increase to be discussed during the Budget Hearings.