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Estero Boulevard re-design needs thorough examination

February 20, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

In preparation for the workshop at St. Peter's Lutheran Church from 4.30 to 6.30 pm on Feb. 28th, I've been trying to find out what is proposed. It seems that a lot of consideration is being given to the width and number of lanes, how wide sidewalks should be, whether bike lanes can be fitted in, etc.

I notice one glaring omission: Little thought seems to be given to traffic flow! In March 2012, 79 residents and business owners took the trouble to write to the County Commissioners, urging them to use the vacant lot of Seafarer's Mall, which is now in public ownership and was bought with tax dollars, to ease traffic flow on and off our island instead of using this crucial site simply as a parking lot.

Surely, it makes sense to do everything possible to ease traffic flow while mega bucks are being spent on re-designing Estero Boulevard, our one through road! There are various ideas to which clever traffic engineers should apply their minds:

n Re-routing Estero Boulevard before Matanzas Bridge so that traffic going off the island goes across Seafarer's Mall (and perhaps a bit of the almost derelict Helmerich Plaza) to separate it from traffic coming onto the island. Vehicles coming onto Fort Myers Beach could use the existing road. There could be sections of elevated road, pedestrian overpasses, the present pedestrian crossing could be moved, etc. Experts need to investigate what is possible. But there is no time to lose; they need to do it NOW!

n As far as the rest of the re-design is concerned, it is obvious that cycling needs to be encouraged for on-island errands to save even more cars using this congested road. As I understand it, cycle lanes are planned for some sections, but not for others. I use my bike almost every day and if there is a cycle path for only part of my route, I won't use it because it is more dangerous to weave in and out rather than ride on the sidewalk. For both pedestrians and cyclists it would be more pleasant to have separate lanes.

n I think the use of trolleys by day visitors must be encouraged by making trolley rides speedy, easy and cheap. However, there MUST be a pull-off point at every stop so that trolleys no longer hold up traffic, as they do now.

n To avoid further tragedies pedestrian crossings must be well signed and lit. The yellow flashing light, which was recently installed at the Red Coconut, is well intentioned, but it is sited too far away from the road to be obvious to drivers.

I welcome the Lee County consultation process and urge everybody to go along to St. Peter's on Feb. 28, from 4.30 - 6.30 p.m. to give their input. If we don't take the trouble to express our opinion, we can't complain if the wrong decisions are made.

Gertraud Short

Fort Myers Beach



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