CREATED Sep. 9, 2013
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - If you're paying county taxes, you expect the county will take care of your basic services. That isn't the case for a neighborhood in Charlotte County where families say the county-maintained road they live on is underwater and the county isn't acting fast enough to help the situation.
Patricia Fountain said over the weekend, her family was stranded in their home on Little Farm Road because the water got so high on the road, they couldn't get out. Her family- and a few others- don't have a choice whether or not to go through the water because it's their only way out.
"We have to drive through it, no services will come to us and the school bus won't even drive through it," Fountain said.
Though the problem became worse this weekend, Fountain said the road consistently has at least six to eight inches of water on it, even in the dry season. Last year, residents filed a complain to have the road fixed.
"This is a county engineered problem, they designed it like this and getting them to fix it has been a real nightmare," said resident Richard Chafe.
In November 2012, Charlotte County began a project to add culverts to this part of the road to fix the flooding. According to the most recent project update, $49,380 is being spent in design and permitting alone. Now, nine months into the project and the initial phase hasn't been completed.
Joanne Vernon, Assistant Engineer for Charlotte County, said the reason the design process is taking so long is because of the amount of water in the area. The consultant has to be careful not to create any adverse effects upstream or downstream of the area, she said.
"It's a difficult situation and we're trying to fix it as soon as possible," Vernon said.
Vernon said it's normal for design and permitting to take this long. The consultant is expected to submit the plan for permitting with the South Florida Water Management Distrcit by the end of this month. Getting a permit could take up to three months. Once the permit is obtained,, the project will have to be bid on, which could take up to three months. Once the Board of County Commissioners approves a bid for the project, construction can begin and is expected to take 60 days.
Under this timeline, the project should be completed by the end of May 2014.
Residents who have to drive through the water every day want a temporary fix for the problem, but the county said any kind of fix- permanent or temporary- requires design and permitting.