Thanks to LMHS's Sally Jackson for highlighting the importance of the MPO's TIGER grant Complete Streets Initiative for promoting healthy lifestyles, the goal of the Healthy Lee coalition. Both Healthy Lee and LMHS are BikeWalkLee supporter organizations.
News-Press Sept. 8, 2015
By Sally Jackson, Healthy Lee and LMHS
Since 2007, Lee Memorial Health System has supported a diverse group of community leaders in the Healthy Lee initiative which conducts research and makes recommendations to improve our community’s health status and our health care delivery system. Healthy Lee strives to actively engage the community in healthy lifestyle activities and education, working to improve the quality of life for everyone who works, plays or visits Lee County.
As part of the Healthy Lee work, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), in collaboration with local governments, applied for and was awarded a $10.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant. TIGER provides a unique opportunity for the Department of Transportation (USDOT) to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects and Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion to the program.
Lee County was one of 52 transportation projects in 37 states to receive funding from the USDOT in 2013, and has designated the grant to improving safety and connectivity on Lee County's bicycle and pedestrian paths. This grant allows Lee County to fill gaps in our regional network and link three high priority loops with committed local funding:
- Lee County Tour de Parks Route ($5.2 million) is filling in gaps on a 35-mile segment, designed to connect several Lee County parks, anchored by Lakes Regional Park in south Fort Myers, and is focused on significantly boosting eco-tourism in this area. This segment will also connect two spring training stadiums (JetBlue Park and the Hammond Stadium) to the multi-use path system, encouraging alternative and active transportation to games and entertainment.
- University Loop ($2.2 million) is filling in gaps on a 15-mile segment constructing bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities linking the FGCU campus to the rest of Lee County to encourage safe bicycle, pedestrian and transit travel.
- Bi-County Connector ($3.1 million) is filling in gaps on a 22.8-mile segment that links Lee County, the City of Bonita Springs, and Collier County. The project will add sidewalks, bike facilities and new bus shelters to further support the phenomenally successful year-old LinC Lee/Collier transit route.
Our community was hard hit by the economic downturn, and access to biking, walking and transit has been essential for families with little or no income. Not only will these projects create jobs for locals, they open accessibility for families who have no other options for transportation.
Our local economy relies on tourism. People come from all over the world to enjoy all that Southwest Florida has to offer and these improvements will help promote tourism and small business.
Providing safe paths will increase outdoor activity among the people who live, work and play in Lee County. It’s a solution that also aligns with the number one priority of Healthy Lee: promoting healthy lifestyles and pursuing ways to create a culture of wellness. Walking and biking are activities that nearly everyone can participate in at little or no cost. We hope you’ll take advantage of every opportunity to step out and enjoy all Lee County has to offer. Remember to use www.HealthyLee.com for more information.
Sally Jackson, System Director of Government and Community Relations for Lee Memorial Health System.