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Traffic signal project close to completion; Police: 13 accidents in 2007

By Staff | May 30, 2008

The nearing completion of a traffic signal at Surfside Boulevard and Veterans Parkway is bittersweet after 50-year-old Carolyn Carter died Saturday, succumbing to injuries sustained as a passenger in a car versus school bus accident at the intersection on April 29.

Unfortunately, Carolyn was not the only one affected by the notoriously dangerous intersection: 13 accidents, eight of which involved injuries, occurred at the intersection in 2007 alone, according to Cape Coral police spokesperson Dyan Lee.

Lee said three accidents have occurred there already this year, including the one that took Carolyn’s life, critically injured her 16-year-old daughter and left Trafalgar Middle School bus occupants with bumps and bruises.

“I think it’s needed and I think it’s a good thing,” said five-year Surfside Boulevard resident Gary Ianelli about the signal installation. “You really worry every time you pull up there. Going left, it’s a problem.”

Ianelli said the April 29 school bus accident stood out in his mind as a particularly bad one, though he recalls witnessing the end-result of several.

“I sometimes have to make a left there,” Ianelli said. “People pull out and only go halfway.”

Ianelli is one of many fed up with the difficulties and dangers to motorists presented by the intersection.

Councilmembers Dolores Bertolini and Tim Day are a few of those who lobbied for the construction of a traffic signal at the intersection, though the Lee County Commission initially refused to accept the resolution they drafted regarding the matter, Bertolini said.

“I feel it’s taken longer than necessary to do this,” she said Thursday. “We had enough of the traffic crashes. I’m so grateful to everyone for getting this light up and running.”

County officials finally responded to the public outcry and local lobbying and agreed to allow construction at the intersection in November.

Construction of the signal did not begin until April 4, largely because of the lengthy permitting process, said vice president of planning and development for the Bonita Bay Group, Dennis Church.

The Bonita Bay Group is funding and overseeing the construction of the signal, as well as a recent widening project on Surfside Boulevard.

“The construction was always planned,” Church said. “The problem was the timing of warrants.”

Church said that since Veterans Parkway is a county road, and Surfside Boulevard is a city road, both were required to approve the warrants for construction — a process that ended up taking four months to complete.

“Since then it’s been full speed ahead,” he said.

The signal has been put together in about 60 days. Church said that is well below the average three to four months a signal of this nature usually takes to get up and running.

The signal should be operational sometime next week, barring any unforeseen complications, Church said. It will blink for a few days and then be switched to a standard red, yellow and green signal.

The signal cost the Bonita Bay Group approximately a quarter of a million dollars, said Church.