Thaddeus Mast, Naples Daily News Published 9:36 a.m. ET Nov. 1, 2019
On Terry Street, one of the most important roads in downtown Bonita Springs, car traffic will take a backseat to pedestrian and cyclist safety because of a revised city project.
Starting in November, construction equipment and materials will pile along the road as crews prepare to build a 12-foot-wide multiuse path and widen the existing roadway on the westside of Terry Street, said Matt Feeney, the city’s public works director.
A full Terry Street renovation focusing on pedestrian and cyclist safety has been in the works for more than a year. City Council recently approved a $4 million contract with Pavement Maintenance LLC to begin the project. The new paths should stretch between Pine Street to the east and Bonita Springs Fire Station 25 to the west.
“It’s something I’m very excited about,” said Peter O’Flinn, a former city councilor.
Five-foot-wide bike lanes would line the edge of both eastbound and westbound traffic lanes. A 2-foot painted buffer would give cyclist extra space from fast-moving vehicles. The roadway would expand north to account for the new bike lanes.
The new cyclist paths mean traffic lanes would shrink from about 11 feet in width to 10 feet.
The road bike lanes are meant for speedy cyclists while slower pedestrians and cyclists can use the 12-foot-wide multiuse path on the north side of Terry Street.
Months of construction expected
Florida Power and Light has to make power line adjustments before full construction can begin, Feeney said.
The city also is working with Bonita Springs Utilities to ensure water and sewer systems are adjusted.
Any open stormwater drainage ditches will be covered to make space for the wider road and new pathway. An underground pipe would move rainwater instead of the currently exposed swales.
Full construction should be underway in December. Motorists along one of the most important east-west roads in the city might feel constrained as traffic sometimes will narrow to one lane, Feeney said.
“The first work will be done on the north side (of Terry Street) where the multiuse path will be,” he said.
Most of the work will be done with seasonal residents in town, as construction is expected to finish late summer 2020, Feeney said.
The awkward timing mostly comes down to the budget, he said.
“We took the opportunity that funding and schedules provided,” he said. “It is a large project with a lot of utility reconstruction.”
Student safety being considered, city says
Bonita Springs Middle Center for the Arts sit in the middle of the project, and its students might have the most to gain from a pedestrian-friendly West Terry Street.
“We have a very, very large biking community,” Principal Melissa Layner said. “We have a small number of buses — about 250-300 students use the bus out of 980 students. The rest are mostly on bikes.”
The sidewalk along the north side of Terry Street are 4 feet wide. At 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, the path becomes filled with 11- to 14-year-old students, and the slim sidewalks push some of them onto the grass and block other pedestrians, Layner said.
“The general public are not as accustomed to teenaged bodies,” she said. “Sometimes, teens might not steer around (other cyclists or pedestrians).”
Buses and parents fill up the two-lane street, and Layner said she asks her student cyclists to stay off the road.
“We heavily discourage kids from biking on the street,” she said. “They can be reckless at times.”
The wider paths and bike lanes will make future school years better for all, but the coming months of construction could put students and parents in an awkward situation, Layner said but she’s confident the school can overcome the challenges.
“During construction of the (Terry Street and Old 41 Road) roundabout, we thought it was going to be a huge issue, but it was just fine,” she said. “They’ll figure it out — we’ve got some smart kids.”
Future pedestrian projects
The City Council adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan more than a year ago. The plan shows which city streets need a reboot.
Feeney said West Terry Street will be a standard in the south Lee County city.
“The intent was to show what could be done for the future,” he said. “We’ll use this as a starting point for future projects.”
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