Special to Lake Okeechobee News

SBG wants bypass feasibility study for SR 29 improvements

Posted 1/22/24

A second public workshop for the SR 29 improvements from CR 80A (Cowboy ...

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Special to Lake Okeechobee News

SBG wants bypass feasibility study for SR 29 improvements


LABELLE -- A second public workshop for the SR 29 improvements from CR 80A (Cowboy Way) to north of CR 731 (Whidden Road) is planned for Hendry and Glades County.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), will  conduct the workshop on Jan. 31  at the LaBelle Civic Center at 481 Hickopochee Ave. in LaBelle. 

The workshop is free and open to the public, and is a re-evaluation of proposed improvements to address traffic operations, access and mobility along SR 29.  This workshop will present design changes based on stakeholder comments and updated alternatives, providing an opportunity for the public to share their views about the project. 

This will include an open house with a formal presentation. The project team will be available for discussion.

The Second Bridge Group (SBG), a group of citizens formed to collect and share information about the proposed Bridge St. bypass in LaBelle, outlines some potential problems and solutions to them.

SBG Coordinator Leonard Enriquez wrote in an email shared with SBG members and Caloosa Belle Independent that FDOT needs a new official approval from the City of LaBelle Commission to take over Main Street.

"This whole process seems to be in the hands of our city elected leaders," Enriquez said. "In other words, as we SBG understand it, FDOT needs a NEW OFFICIAL OUTRIGHT APPROVAL from the City Commission to take over Main Street.  The City OFFICIALLY SAID 'NO' and asked for a Bypass Route Design Study back in October 2022. So if our City elected leaders choose to do NOTHING now, the FDOT Dogleg design will apparently not go through.  If that happens, it may open the way for what we are asking for ... a Bypass Route Design Study. 

"At the Workshop, we SBG need to ask FDOT why they refuse to perform a Bypass Route Feasibility study BEFORE breaking ground on the Dogleg design.  We THINK it is because FDOT does not want the delay of perhaps 12 months that the Bypass Route Feasibility Study might entail.  FDOT has said something about missing a budgetary appropration deadline.
"Sorry, but none of the above is very compelling.  Why?  Route 29 will get its extra 2 lanes of capacity, no matter what: either at the Dogleg in front of LaBelle or over a Bypass Route a few miles upriver.
"We SBG are encouraging EVERYONE (even those opposed to SBG's position) in the community, especially our SBG email list folks, to set aside 31-JAN to attend the workshop, and to please try to bring say three (3) friends each.  
"FYI,  Please note that I was invited to the Rotary meeting at Beef O'Brady's at noon on 09-JAN to present the latest SBG slides.  Commissioner [Jackie] Ratica was be there.  I aim to include any feedback from that Rotary meeting in the upcoming email with further updated slides.
"Also, I was invited by FDOT to meet with Mr. Nandam, first secretary of FDOT District 1 on 24-JAN just before the 31-JAN workshop.  Perhaps we will hear a more flexible message."


Bridge Street bypass, SR 29 improvements, City of LaBelle, FDOT, Second Bridge Group