Tuesday, October 25, 2011

News-Press: Lee seeks to secure path funds

October 25, 2011
by Bob Rathegeber

A Lee County planning group is seeking
$10 million in grant money from the
federal government to build a series of
bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The money is part of a U.S. Department of
Transportation $526 million grant

An additional $4.6 million in county funds
would allow for the building of what the
Metropolitan Planning Organization calls
“three signature demonstration projects” —
Tour de Parks, University Loop and
Winkler/Jefferson Complete Streets project.

The Tour de Parks starts at Lakes Park and
trails to Lee County Sports Complex and
the new Red Sox stadium; the University
Loop around FGCU; and the
Winkler/Jefferson circle just south of Fort
Myers Country Club in Fort Myers.

Don Scott, MPO director, said Monday the
application is being tailored after previous
plans that were successful.

“It’s very competitive,” Scott said. In
previous rounds one of 30-40 applications
was approved, Scott said.

Dave Loveland, interim director of the Lee
County Department of Transportation, is
optimistic of landing the grant.

“I think it’s realistic,” Loveland said. “The
federal government has indicated that
these are the kinds of projects they are
looking for, alternative ways of

BikeWalkLee, a coalition seeking more
bicycle and pedestrian paths throughout
the county, has been working with the MPO
on the plan.

Darla Letourneau, a spokeswoman for the
group, said the federal grant would close
holes in the existing path system.

“By linking the three projects and filling
gaps, there would be a connected corridor
of biking and walking facilities from
downtown Fort Myers down to FGCU and
then linked to Collier County by transit,”
she said.

In a letter of support to Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood, Letourneau wrote:
“This project has the potential to be a
game-changer for our region and serve as
a model throughout Florida.”

There are no accurate data of how many
people use bike lanes and sidewalks in Lee
County. So, FGCU assistant professor
Margaret Banyan sent students in her state
and local government class to gather
anecdotal evidence.

In two, two-hour counts last year at 11
different locations throughout the county,
students recorded 666 walkers and bikers
on a Tuesday morning and Saturday

By far, the busiest area was near the
intersection of Old 41 Road and Terry
Street in Bonita Springs where the count
was a combined 298.

“That shows that some of these are not just
a recreation route,” Banyan said, “they are
routes people use for work.”

Safety is another factor in the desire for
more pedestrian routes.

The latest statistics show Florida to be
among the most dangerous states for
walkers and bike riders, and Lee County
among the worst in the state.

“If you don’t have decent, safe facilities,
you won’t see people on them.”

Several miles of pathways are either under
construction or have been completed in the
past year. Those include bike lanes and
sidewalks along S.R. 82, Colonial
Boulevard, Six Mile Cypress Parkway and
Daniels Parkway as well as on U.S. 41 in
San Carlos Park and Estero.

Among several miles of sidewalks under
construction in Fort Myers is one along
Tarpon Street. Due to be completed in
December, the new walkway will link up
with a path to the Tarpon Street Pier, a
popular fishing spot in the area.

The grant money comes from the
Transportation Investment Generating
Economic Recovery program, which has its
origins with the federal stimulus act of

The article is also posted on BWL's website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.