Commuter rail in SWFL? Idea proposed to FDOT

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A planning firm has proposed to the Florida Department of Transportation a commuter rail line that would run between North Fort Myers and North Naples.

This 37-mile rail line would bypass traffic on Interstate-75 or US-41, according to Bill Spikowski and his planning firm. Plans for the proposed CSX/Seminole Gulf Rail Corridor could incorporate additional amenities for Southwest Florida residents.

“The railroad corridor runs all the way through Lee County from Fort Myers to Bonita Springs and it could have actually bike paths, trails and even public transportation on it, in addition to freight cars,” Spikowski said.

The CSX/Seminole Gulf Rail would operate on an existing railroad between Prospect Avenue in Fort Myers to Immokalee Road in North Naples. The current railroad is used for freight transportation, which has drastically dropped in the last several years.

“Since the recession, there hasn’t been much freight coming down through Bonita Springs or Estero — that could resume or not since some of the businesses have relocated,” Spikowski said.

FDOT has not approved the project, but instead has asked Spikowski’s planning firm to determine whether local leaders support the idea.

Several local leaders are on board including Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons and other leaders in Fort Myers and Estero.

The project would take years and could cost between $10 million and $100 million per mile.

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