Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, December 18, 2019
|The enormous cost of adding pedestrian access ways rather than including them up-front is the best argument of doing it right the first time.|
Lee County government and its various municipalities have on the books unmet infrastructure needs, some of which are also included on the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s project list, which includes over $200 million worth of projects. Unmet SUN Trail needs amount to another $ 7.6 million.
Lee County’s list is made up of those in unincorporated parts of the county as well as on Lee County roads that run through the various municipalities. None of the bridges linking Fort Myers with Cape Coral and Sanibel that are under the county’s jurisdiction allow pedestrian access nor are facilities to address the need to change that fact among 125 identified projects, or even acknowledged as a need. Retrofitting the bridges could add $5-$30 million for each structure, perhaps much more for the Midpoint Bridge and Sanibel Causeway structures because of their length (the estimate is based on FDOT’s U.S. 41 bridge, which is approximately one mile long).
The enormous cost for adding such features, rather than including them upfront, is the best argument of doing it right the first time, whether it be a bridge or road project. That’s exactly what a Complete Streets policy does. So, in reality, Lee County’s needs are much more expensive than $160 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 email@example.com
Another way Cape Coral looked at its needs is related to the tragic deaths last school year of two students who were waiting at or walking from their bus stops. Because of those events the city did a remarkable thing: it conducted a study to determine what the needs and cost estimates would be for various levels of sidewalk installations throughout the city as well as streetlighting, seating and enhanced signage around all the bus stops and the two-mile walking distance to each school.
The study found that to provide sidewalks on the 1,250 miles of roads within the city that currently don’t have them (meaning approximately 90% of streets) it would cost over $1 billion in today’s dollars for 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of all major roads and one side of all local roads. It goes up to over $2 billion if the local roads have sidewalks on both sides rather than just one. The estimates only include 5-foot sidewalks and does not consider wider shared use paths or bike lanes where appropriate, both of which are features included in the city’s bike/ped master plan.
The village of Estero lists 17 projects with a cost estimate of $63 million, quite significant for a new entity with a very small annual budget. The town of Fort Myers Beach did an excellent job turning the portion of Estero Boulevard that’s under its jurisdiction (Times Square to Bowditch Park) into a Complete Street a few years back. Now the rest of Estero Boulevard is undergoing a full rebuild that includes bike/ped features. Still, the town has around $200,000 in bike/ped needs on its list.
I wasn’t able to get accurate data from Fort Myers, Bonita Springs or Sanibel, but even without needs and cost estimates there are at least $360 million in identified unmet bike/ped needs within the county.
By contrast, new roads and improvements to existing roadways that will primarily benefit motorists have $1.8 billion in funding identified to be constructed by 2040, meaning approximately $90 million per year dedicated to those projects.
To learn about this topic and more, visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com and www.streetsaliveswfl.org.¦
|Highway bridge with 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.