Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, December 4, 2019
|City bridge with bi-directional bike path, sidewalk, bus lane, and motor vehicle lanes (source: Google)|
It’s generally agreed upon that America’s aging transportation infrastructure is in need of significant repair and upgrades. To most, that means everything from our bridges to highways and airports; here in Southwest Florida, however, things aren’t as dire as they are in many other parts of our country, primarily because much of our area was developed post-WWII and is relatively “new.”
But that’s doesn’t mean we don’t have critical needs — especially where infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists is concerned. It’s not that we need to replace/repair aging facilities, but that we need to provide the basics where none has ever existed.
The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (www.leempo.com) has a list that includes more than $200 million in projects to accommodate non-motorists awaiting design and construction. Some of the most significant are:
Shared use paths, or SUPs, on both sides of Estero Boulevard on the islands that connect Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach. This will allow non-motorized access to Lovers Key State Park, one of our area’s natural gems. The estimated cost is $3.5 million.
|Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian |
advocate and traffic safety professional
who cycles, runs and walks regularly for
transportation, recreation and fitness.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In east Lee County, SUPs on both sides and bike lanes along parts of Orange River Road ($3.1 million) and sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of segments of Buckingham Road ($7.7 million).
In Lehigh Acres, sidewalks and bike lanes along parts of Joel Boulevard ($9.3 million) and sidewalks on Bell Boulevard from Joel Boulevard to SR 82 ($2.3 million).
In southwest Fort Myers, bike lanes along McGregor Boulevard from Cypress Lake Drive to south San Carlos Boulevard ($5.7 million).
Many of these are only a portion of a full project. And there generally are no “bells and whistles” on any of them.
Another list MPO keeps is for our portion of the statewide SUN Trail network for which we’re seeking trail-specific dollars to build. One of three segments along Kismet Parkway in Cape Coral (from Del Prado Boulevard to Nelson Boulevard) is in the design phase and will cost almost $5 million; the two additional segments that will close the gap from Del Prado to SE 24th are estimated at $2.6 million.
Across the river in Fort Myers, the next phase of John Yarbrough Trail (from Colonial Boulevard north to Hanson street) comes in at $1.8 million. But a pedestrian bridge spanning Colonial to meet the existing trail is estimated at another $3.27 million, bringing the cost to just over $5 million.
I’ve pointed out many times Lee County’s critical shortcoming in the complete lack of pedestrian access on all but one of our major bridges. Those on foot cannot cross the Sanibel Causeway, the Cape Coral Bridge, the Midpoint Bridge or the Caloosahatchee River Bridge. The southbound span of the Edison Bridge is the only structure a pedestrian can legally traverse.
As part of a SUN Trail grant application, some type of facility is being considered for the Caloosahatchee River Bridge that would serve pedestrians and cyclists. But the cost to add such access to any of those bridges — the estimate for retrofitting the Caloosahatchee River Bridge is around $30 million for 8-foot cantilever structures and $5 million$ 8 million to narrow travel lanes to make room for 5-foot sidewalks and raise the railings — means we’ll likely only see this happen when new bridges replace existing ones. And even that might be a risky assumption, considering three of the offending bridges have been constructed in the relative recent past without those features.
To learn about this topic and more, visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com and www.streetsaliveswfl.org.¦
|Highway bridge with (electric) bus lane and guard-railed bidirectional bike lane (source: Google)|
For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.