Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cape Coral to Pine Island shared use path project feasibility study funded by FDOT

Every year in June the MPO submits its transportation projects funding request to FDOT for consideration as part of the update of their 5-year workplan.  Then in December of every year FDOT decides what of the request will be funded, adding the new 5th year projects.  This year's FDOT workplan was pretty disappointing for Lee County overall (more on that in a later post); however, there was one definite bright spot--approval of the feasibility study for a shared use path to connect Cape Coral and Pine Island.

Last spring LeeDOT submitted an application to the Lee MPO for a feasibility study for a shared use path connecting Pine Island to Cape Coral.  This project was one of two regional projects approved jointly by the Lee and Collier County MPOs to compete for funding from an FDOT District-wide fund called "Transportation Enhancement Projects".  On June 20th, the Lee MPO Board recommended funding of this project as part of its request to FDOT. FDOT has now released its workplan decisions, and they approved the Lee MPO request. This means that FDOT's 5-year funding plan for Lee County has programmed $1.1 million for the study in FY 2019-20. [Note: While this is good news, we were disappointed to learn that rather than additional funds from a district-wide "pot", the funds came out of the amount of funds already set-aside for Lee MPO bike/ped projects.]
It's important to keep in mind that this is the very first step in a long process--the study itself doesn't start for 5 years, but that's just how long the planning horizon is for transportation projects. The feasibility study will determine what type of facility should be used (multi-path, etc.) and will deal with challenges such as right-of-way issues and wetland mitigation.  Public meetings will be held during this study process to hear from affected communities.  Once the study is completed, hopefully in 2020-21, then there's design and construction work to be planned and funded.
 There was strong community support for this project from Pine Island, Matlacha, and Cape Coral residents, as well as BikeWalkLee and the Cape Coral Bike-Ped group. The application was also supported by both the County's bike/ped advisory committee (BPAC) and the MPO's bike/ped committee (BPCC).  Take the time to thank the Lee MPO Board and FDOT for approving this project, and LeeDOT staff (Andy Getch) for submitting the grant application and BPAC and BPCC members for endorsing the application.  Citizens also have an opportunity to speak at the Dec. 19th MPO Board meeting (9 a.m. in Cape Coral City Council Chambers) when the Board will hear a presentation of the overall workplan by FDOT and will vote on adoption of the FDOT 5-year workplan.

Below are links to two BikeWalkLee blog stories from June on this issue.

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