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Meeting on Bayshore Pathway at civic center

June 26, 2018
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Do you put a pathway along Bayshore Road or just a sidewalk? Do you put the best option on the north side of the road or the south? Do you simply do nothing?

Those were the questions being asked by the Florida Department of Transportation to residents who came to a public information meeting last Tuesday for a Bayshore Road Pathway Project Development and Environment study at Whaley Hall on the grounds of the Lee Civic Center.

The study is being conducted for a proposed pathway on Bayshore Road (SR 78) from Park 78 Drive to SR 31, a distance of 3.7 miles.

According to the FDOT, the pathway would provide a safe, viable non-motorized travel option for residents along the road, particularly cyclists who refrain from using Bayshore because of the danger.

"We're here to show some of the different alignments we have for people to look at to let us know which one they thing is the best," said Zachary Burch, communications manager for the FDOT District 1. "The idea is to get feedback from people in the area on specific areas of concern so it gives us a chance to go forward."

Residents were presented with four alternatives, a sidewalk or pathway on the north or south side of the road. Each carry a different price tag.

Alternatives 3 and 4 would include a 12-foot-wide shared use path, which would be a more expensive option as it would be wider and use asphalt rather than concrete and carry a higher wetlands mitigation. A northside pathway would cost $8.35 million, while a southside one is $7.76 million.

Alternatives 1 and 2, involving an eight-foot sidewalk, would cost $4.6 million on the north and $4.38 million on the south.

Another option is the no-build option, in which nothing would be done until the year 2040.

Opinion was mixed. Sherry Ausdran, an insurance agency owner who uses the road, said that any development is good.

"Seeing they are moving forward with the path on Bayshore is wonderful. It's good for the community, resident and businesses," Ausdran said. "I would like to see pathway on the south side because there is the county park and Hogbody's and Horsin' Around Deli there and the RV resort, where residents could use their golf carts."

Isobel Hitchcock, a member of the Calusa Riders Bicycle Club, said the pathway would be great for her group, especially on the south.

"This is an area people travel through. I travel this road all the time and having the opportunity to bike or walk here is gong to be a tremendous thing," Hitchcock said. "In this society with obesity and the expensive cars, we have to look at things like this."

Detractors, especially those who live in the area, were not as excited, calling it one more body slam to the rural nature of the neighborhood.

"There's not a high density of people who live here. I doesn't make a lot of sense for us to spend money on something we don't need," said Justin Cook. "We have plenty of exercise paths already. People bought here because there are no sidewalks. It's why you live here."

Phyllis Becker said "they put the cart before the horse" and need to get a wider road built before they put in a pathway.

"To put a sidewalk in now and then have to tear it up to put in the (four-lane) road is absurd," Becker said. "We have big developments going in and you're going to get more traffic. They aren't considering that. They're considering the five people who walk."

Once the PD&E phase is finished the design phase begins, taking into account public input, right-of-way, if necessary, and then construction, which Burch said is still a few years away.



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