Golden Gate Estates residents disagree on need for more roads in and out of the community

Published: March 14, 2022 6:12 PM EDT

Too many people moving into one Southwest Florida community creates a challenging traffic situation. There are only two roads in and out of Golden Gate Estates, so when there’s a crash, you’re stuck.

Some say more roads need to be built to accommodate everyone. Others say if you don’t like it, move out.

A surprising number of people in Golden Gate Estates agree with the latter. They like a slower life away from the hustle and bustle of town, so they say if you want to go into town, learn to live with the fact it might take a while.

Others say that is unacceptable.

Leandro Fonte runs a mobile barbershop out of his van. “So you know I travel all-day back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” said Fonte. In and out of the Golden Gate Estates. That business model is not full proof. “Yeah, you know, traffic has been crazy lately.” Fonte said, “So either Golden Gate or Immokalee and there’s always, I mean especially rush hour around four or five. It’s crazy.”

“Maybe once in a while I’ll leave out here to go to town to go do stuff, but other times like I am mostly stuck at the house because I don’t like dealing with traffic,” said Golden Gate Estates resident Tim Shepherd.

Shepherd and Fonte said there need to be alternate routes out of the estates. Ro Lahey says no way. “You know what it’s like! Live with it, or don’t buy it, buy in town,” said Lahey. Lahey said he is OK with the traffic because he chose to live among it.

Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor said a project is in the works to extend Vanderbilt Beach Road. That will be one more way out of the estates, but that’ll take a while and doesn’t solve the root problem. “What the issue is the increase in density. And the more you increase density, the more cars are on the road, and that’s just the way it is,” said Taylor.

She means approving more and more development out here in the estates. Taylor also said beyond the Vanderbilt Beach Road project, there are no other plans to build alternate routes in and out of Golden Gate Estates, but Collier County is working on several traffic studies that might ease traffic flow.