Friday, March 9, 2018
Collier Co. Wins $13 M TIGER grant for Immokalee bike/ped safety project
Naples Daily News, March 9, 2018
Immokalee gets $13 million grant for sidewalks, lights, bus shelters, drainage
Greg Stanley, firstname.lastname@example.org
After years of trying, Collier County will receive a $13 million federal grant to build sidewalks, streetlights and bus shelters in Immokalee, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week.
The money — enough to build 20 miles of sidewalks, upgrade 32 intersections and add 22 shaded bus shelters — will fund one of the largest projects to make Immokalee safer for its many pedestrians and bicyclists.
The grant also will be used to add lights to most intersections in town and build 20 miles of drainage ditches along roads to keep paths from flooding and forcing pedestrians onto the sides of streets.
Immokalee's Community Redevelopment Agency has been trying to add sidewalks, illuminate streets and install adequate road drainage systems for years.
"So many of our side streets have no lighting, and it gets very dark," said Christie Betancourt, operations manager of the CRA. "This is just great news."
Almost 250 people on foot or on bicycles have been hit by cars in Immokalee since 2005, according to county data. Immokalee has a population of 24,000.
The county estimates a quarter of Immokalee residents don't have a car. More than 30 percent of students walk or bike to school, and almost half of adults walk, bike or take a bus to work.
Yet 63 percent — almost two-thirds — of Immokalee streets don't have a sidewalk.
Design work will begin in the coming months, with construction expected to begin sometime in late 2019, according to the county's grant application.The work is expected to finish in 2021.
Betancourt and Collier County Commissioner Bill McDaniel, who represents the area, said much of the credit for the grant should go to Trinity Scott and Lorraine Lantz, county transportation planners who were instrumental in writing the application, prioritizing needs and capturing the grant.
"We're always talking about how Immokalee is a walking community," McDaniel said. "That means having safe sidewalks for our children to get to and from school and for our residents to get around is paramount."
McDaniel thanked U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, chairman of the House Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, and U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, of Florida, for supporting the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.
Diaz-Balart, whose district includes Immokalee, said in a statement he is eager to see the effects of the grant.
"From the installation of streetlights to the construction of bus shelters and sidewalks, the funds from this grant will be utilized to improve the quality of life for Immokalee residents,” he said.