News-Press, May 27, 2015
Work is scheduled to begin July 5 on the first stage of the Complete Streets Initiative.
The first areas worked on will be U.S. 41 and Constitution Boulevard, as well as Lee Road. Sidewalks along the south side will be installed. That area was chosen first so it can be completed before San Carlos Elementary students return to school, Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization staff director Don Scott said.
The MPO played host to a pre-construction open house for the initiative at the Estero Community Park Recreation Center on Tuesday night. Project representatives were available to answer questions and review the display boards exhibited.
In the next 18 months, Scott said the project will connect three major areas: the Tour de Parks Loop, which includes areas around Daniels Parkway and Colonial Boulevard; the University Loop around FGCU; and the Bi-County Connector, which will link Lee and Collier counties. Together, the three segments form a system for walking, bicycling and transit use. A total of 11 new LeeTran bus shelters will be built.
|5/26 Open House (photo by DLetourneau)|
This project is funded by a $10.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant awarded to Lee County by the United States Department of Transportation in 2013.
With the project projected at $9.8 million, there may be $600,000 available to work on an additional element.
“We’re filling in gaps,” Scott said. “Most people will notice there’s major streets on Daniels and Colonial not having facilities for stretches.”
|MPO's Don Scott explains a segment to Deborah Chesna. (Photo by DLetourneau)|
While he has no data, Scott said more people are riding bicycles. After the project is completed, he said there will be four years of studies to get counts on bicycle-pedestrian use.
Bonita Springs resident Fred Forbes said he’s for bike paths and separating bicyclists from motorists. “It appears they’ve achieved that,” he said.
Naples’ Deborah Chesna said she’s for infrastructure that gets people moving.
“There’s a lot of pathways that continue to go on,” Chesna said. “I’m for anything that gets us off roads and for families to ride so we can give them options.”
Darla Letourneau, a member of BikeWalkLee, said this project should make it somewhat safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. However, she said the areas that will be worked on still need improvements at intersections and in areas to help get neighborhoods connected. She said she has received an email from a citizen who doesn’t feel this is a complete street because of issues like these.
“This isn’t the end of it,” Letourneau said. “We now need to come back into the local jurisdictions and maximize use of the facilities.
“This is one piece of the puzzle. Nothing by itself reduces safety. There also has to be enforcement, education, other connections. Frankly, I’m concerned about the intersections because that’s where most of the crashes are.”
|Staff and Contractor TIGER Team|
Projected timeline for start of Complete Streets Initiative
July: Constitution Boulevard (U.S. 41 to Constitution Circle): Sidewalk along south side; Lee Road (Sanibel Boulevard to Alico Road): Sidewalk along south side
October: Corkscrew Road (Woodlands to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway): Paved shoulders, both sides
November: Daniels Parkway (Six Mile Cypress to I-75): Pathway along south side; Colonial Boulevard (East of Winkler Street to Veronica Shoemaker Road): Pathway along north side
December: Sanibel Boulevard (Iris Road to Lee Road): Sidewalk along south side
January: FGCU (South entrance road): Pathway along south side
February: Daniels Parkway (Treeline Avenue to Red Sox Stadium): Pathway along south side.
What is a Tiger Grant?
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for the Department of Transportation to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion for six rounds to fund projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.