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Estero Boulevard project needs careful planning

February 8, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Our Town Council and Lee County Commissioners have agreed to co-operate on the Estero Boulevard project. I think co-operation is to be welcomed. However, we must be sure of careful planning beforehand. There is no point in laying down a beautiful new road surface, only to dig it up again soon afterwards.

Now is the time for residents to make their views known on this project. In my view, the following needs to be decided and planned in first:

1. All work, which requires digging up the road needs to be completed first (renew our drinking water system, fire mains, storm water drainage, underground utilities (if possible).

2. Make a sensible decision for the future of the Seafarers' Mall site. I think it is a most unsuitable site for extra beach parking. This is the area where traffic already snarls up. All cars coming over the bridge onto our island would have to cross Estero to reach the Seafarers parking lot. Unless an overpass were constructed, each car would have to either enter the parking lot straight from Estero or from Crescent Street or another side road. In each case they would stop traffic in both directions because Estero is narrow at that point. Also, the occupants of the cars would need to walk across Estero in order to reach the beach or Times Square. Traffic is already bad enough. We certainly do not need to make it worse!

Moreover, the site is quite small and would not make a great difference to the availability of beach parking. Fort Myers Beach is the main beach for most of Lee County Residents and beyond. There is no way we can accommodate the cars of everybody who wants to come on our island. Now is the time for Lee County to expedite plans for a large parking facility on the mainland and for an improved trolley service to the Beach. We want our visitors to actually get to the Beach and feel welcome, rather than have them turn round in disgust when they experience backups past Pine Ridge Road!

3. Straighten Estero Boulevard in the Seafarers' area to do away with the sharp bend. Perhaps the trolley lane, which already exists over the bridge, could be extended?

4. Move the present pedestrian crossing in the Seafarers' area away from the bend to a more suitable place, perhaps opposite Crescent Beach Park. Re-consider the timing of the pedestrian traffic light. At peak periods when traffic is backed up a long way, the waiting time for the green pedestrian light could be increased. With modern technology this is quite possible and done in other areas.

5. I think we need to plan in pull-off spaces at trolley stops and require trolley drivers to pull off Estero to let passengers get on and off.

6. The visibility of pedestrians at pedestrian crossings all along Estero needs to be improved in the hours of darkness. At present pedestrians are hard to see in the dark. Lights could be installed over pedestrian crossings, which come on at the same time as the street lights. If this is planned in at the time of road constructions, this is easily done.

7. Wherever possible, increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Well, this is my wish list. I very much hope that all residents will make their wishes known to the Town Council. Public input is essential for such an important and long-lasting project. This is a chance in a lifetime to improve Estero Boulevard!

Gertraud Short

Fort Myers Beach



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