Friday, September 9, 2016

BikeWalkLee comments on County Commission's proposed transportation plan in the FY 2016-17 budget

 It's budget time again, and BikeWalkLee communicated its comments on the County's proposed 2016-17 budget to the County Commissioners for their consideration during the September public comment period.  Below are highlights of our recommendations, and a link to the complete BWL letter which contains detailed comments and recommendations on each of these four topics, along with a link to the draft detailed CIP.

September 8, 2016
Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County's streets, works for a balanced multi-modal transportation system that values transportation choice, connectivity, economic opportunity, livable communities, community character, safety, and quality growth.

On September 5, prior to the Sept. 6th public hearing, we sent you our letter with comments on the proposed 2016-17 budget.  On Sept. 6th, we received an email (also sent to the Board) from Assistant County Manager Pete Winton, stating that there was an error in the "Bicycle Pedestrian Facilities" line item in the County's detailed CIP table that he provided to BikeWalkLee for its analysis.  We have now revised our recommendations based on this corrected County information, and are submitting this revised letter for your consideration as you finalize the proposed 2016-17 budget.

Here are the highlights of our recommendations
1. Bike/Ped Facilities
  • Begin planning now for increased investments in bike/ped facilities in next year's five-Year CIP to build on the federal investments of the Lee MPO TIGER Complete Streets Initiative grant.
  • Push for completion of already funded projects in a more expeditious timeframe.
2. CIP Road Projects
  •  Demonstrate your commitment to accelerate the schedule for the completion of the Estero Blvd. Improvement project within the 5-year CIP, by moving the $19.5 million now shown in the outyears (years 6-10) into the 5-Year CIP Plan. The Board's decision to delay the Hickory Bridge projects ($33.8 million originally planned for FY 21-22) to the outyears, means that there are projected revenues available NOW that can be budgeted for the Estero Blvd. project. While the County Manager's memo states the change of the bridge projects "will allow for potential acceleration of Estero Blvd.," without including funds in the 5-year window for this purpose, there is no commitment to accelerate this project.
3. Transit
  • Before next year's budget cycle, develop public transportation options for the growing workforce and projected county population by ensuring (and funding) a robust transit system with frequent and reliable service.
  • In the coming year, implement low-cost and innovative measures to increase ridership, learning from other successful communities.
4. Public participation in budget process
  • Provide complete, accurate, accessible, and timely information to the public on the budget proposals under discussion throughout the budget process.
  • Provide an opportunity for the public to comment during Board workshops on budget issues.
Click here to continue reading BikeWalkLee's letter, which includes details on each of these four topics. Click here to view the County's detailed draft transportation CIP (as of 9/12/16).  Note that it does not yet reflect the BoCC's decision to pay 100% of the cost of the Estero Parkway Project.

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