Saturday, November 27, 2010

Action Alert Update on Hickory Blvd bike lanes: LeeDOT to present plan to Bonita City Council on Jan. 5th

Updated on 12/1/10 to reflect change in plans decided at 12/1/10 Bonita Springs City Council meeting

Residents of Bonita Springs need to come to the Bonita Springs City Council meeting on Wednesday January 5th (5:30 p.m. at council chambers, 9101 Bonita Beach Road Southeast, Bonita Springs, FL 34135) to speak in support of the planned Hickory Blvd. bike lanes. At this meeting, Lee County DOT will make a presentation about their planned Hickory Blvd. project to add shoulders/bike lanes, and is seeking to get as many comments from individuals in the city as possible. After they hear from the Council, they will take the project to the BoCC for their direction. Members of the public will have an opportunity to make comments during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, as well as to pose questions to the LeeDOT Director after his presentation (most likely by filling out question cards that the Council will pose to LeeDOT).

Here’s the quick background: Hickory Blvd is a county maintained road and LeeDOT has included funding ($500 k) in the County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for 2011 (using gas tax revenues allocated for bike/ped projects) to put in 4 ft. bike lanes on both sides of the road on Hickory Blvd. Residents and the Bonita Beach Improvement Association requested that the county provide these bike lanes 2 years ago, citing their concerns about safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The county reviewed the request and agreed to fund this project. With new bike lanes on this segment, they would connect with the existing paved shoulders on Hickory going north, and link up to the ones on Estero Blvd. along Fort Myers Beach.

LeeDOT provided its CIP plan to Bonita Springs (since road is in Bonita Springs) and the City Manager raised a list of concerns about putting in bike lanes. At the County Manager's request, the Bonita Springs City Council sent a letter to LeeDOT on 8/18 asking for its responses to the concerns raised by the City Manager. On 9/17, LeeDOT responded to the City Manager stating that “adding paved shoulders to Hickory Blvd. provides both improved operation and reduced maintenance. Paved shoulders have been shown to reduce the number of run-off-the-road crashes and provide a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians to travel.” LeeDOT supports putting bike lanes on Hickory Blvd. and sees this project as “following the concepts of complete streets, a policy that both the City and County are in the process of implementing.”

As reported in a News-Press article, some residents on Hickory Blvd have raised concerns about paying to rebuild driveways and move mailboxes. (see News-Press article 10/13/10 : “Bonita bike lane bill may fall on residents”.

While the City Manager had decided to pull the LeeDOT presentation from the December 15th agenda, Mayor Nelson took the issue to the full Council on 12/1 for consideration and they unanimously agreed to move forward with the LeeDOT presentation with the explicit understanding that this is a presentation and the Council will not be voting on the issue, as this is a county road. Councilman Spear requested that the meeting be moved to January 5th, which is an evening meeting (5:30 p.m.) so that more people could attend.

If you live in Bonita Springs or use Hickory Blvd. when you cycle and want to see bike lanes on Hickory Blvd. so you can connect to the biking facilities to Fort Myers Beach and up Hickory to the north, you need to mark your calendars to attend the January 5th 5:30 p.m. City Council meeting. If you can't make the meeting, send an e-mail to the city council members and the County Commissioners. See the addresses on the city website.

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