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Removal of Chiquita lock nudges forward

By Staff | Sep 30, 2016

Boaters who use the Chiquita Lock in Southwest Cape Coral could be celebrating at some point because the city is about to finish the process of filing a permit to remove the lock with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“We’ve been working with a consultant on a plan to complete the water quality modeling study at the lock,” said Public Works Director Steve Neff. “It includes the concept engineering plans of how the lock will be removed. We should have the permit application sent to the FDEP by the end of October.”

Removal of the lock has been talked about and studied for years, usually at a time when the aging lock needed costly repairs. Water samples on both sides of the lock were studied and discussed with the FDEP in October 2011.

High tide water levels in area canals were studied in April 2012 when the city received permission to open both gates for certain tidal periods.

An option to build a parallel lock at a cost of $13 million was considered in February 2013 when the crumbling lock needed $200,000 in repairs. City Council approved the repairs the next month and paid for a study on whether the lock could be removed.

In July 2015 a two-phase plan was developed with Avalon Engineering to apply for a permit to remove the lock. The first phase addressed the application methodology.

The city is now completing the second phase addressing the environmental modeling and engineering design for removal.

“The city manager and public works director have been working very hard to make this happen,” Councilmember John Carioscia said at Monday’s council meeting. “They have my gratitude and appreciation because it looks like we can see some daylight here.”

Neff remains cautiously optimistic about the chance for approval for removing the lock.

“We should get some idea from (FDEP) initial evaluation within a few months,” Neff said. “I’m sure there will be some third party getting involved during the process.”