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Special meeting called to discuss Dunlop Road path

By Staff | Dec 1, 2010

Last week, City Manager Judie Zimomra announced that a special meeting of the City Council has been called to review and consider alternatives for the alignment of the proposed shared use path along Dunlop Road.

The session, open to the public, will take place at MacKenzie Hall beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2.

According to Gates Castle, Public Works Director for the City of Sanibel, the council first formally discussed the potential of adding a pathway along Dunlop Road in May 1994. In 2006, councilors approved acceptance of an easement from Periwinkle Pines for construction of a path between Periwinkle Way and the Sanibel Public Library in the vacant, unbuildable parcel along the west side of Dunlop Road.

Castle also explained that the 2009 Shared Use Path Master Plan includes the Dunlop Road/Wooster Lane loop as one of seven recommended path system extensions.

“Since several options are available, council direction is requested concerning the route of the Dunlop Road path so that plans can be readied for bidding,” Castle’s memorandum to City Council members and Zimomra stated. “Specific interconnecting path locations will be developed later in coordination with the various impacted facilities. Signage, dark sky compliant lighting and options for improvements to the Sanibel Community Association (SCA) crosswalk will also be addressed in the final plans for this project.”

The city’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget includes $400,000 to construct the path as well as other shared use components along the north side of Periwinkle Way (from the SCA crosswalk to the St. Michael’s crosswalk); paths interconnecting the library, City Hall, BIG Arts and the Sanibel Historic Village & Museum; installation of signage and dark sky compliant lighting for the proposed Dunlop Road pathway; and investigating methods of improving the SCA crosswalk.

Castle also included four individual options which will be presented to City Council during the special meeting. They include:

Option 1 — Constructing the shared use path five feet south of the existing eastbound travel lane. While probably the least expensive option, it is also the one with the greatest environmental impact involving gopher tortoise habitat, native vegetation and wetlands.

Option 2 — Identical to Option 1, except the eastbound travel lane at the Wooster Lane curve would become the shared use path. As a result, there would be no wetlands impact, but gopher tortoise and native vegetation would remain impacted.

Option 3 — Utilizing the existing eastbound lane from Mahogany Way to the main City Hall entrance for the shared use path, a new eastbound lane would be constructed south of, and adjacent to, the existing westbound lane. A portion of the existing westbound lane could be used for the interconnecting path previously mentioned and the ingress/egress for the BIG Arts/Village & Museum parking lot would be modified. This option would be more expensive than options 1 or 2, but would have no gopher tortoise or wetlands impact. Native roadway trees would need to be relocated with this option.

Option 4 — Utilizing the existing eastbound lane from Mahogany Way to the main City Hall entrance for the shared use path, but rather than utilizing the existing westbound lane for vehicular travel, a new two-lane road would be constructed in the median. A portion of the existing westbound lane could be used for the interconnecting path previously mentioned and the BIG Arts/Village & Museum parking lot would be reconfigured with a new ingress/egress location and possible enlargement utilizing space gained through the elimination of the existing westbound lane. This option would be the most expensive and require the relocation of more native street trees than the other options.

Following his review of the four options, Sanibel Chief of Police Bill Tomlinson informed Zimomra that his staff would recommend Option 3.

“The primary concern regarding this extension project is safety,” Tomlinson stated last week. “Option 3 affords pedestrians and bicyclists separation from the roadway and reduced curb cuts as well as interconnectivity of all the facilities within the Dunlop corridor.”

Rob Loflin, the city’s Natural Resources Director, also recommended Option 3, citing that “the westernmost alignment of the shared use path is preferable.”

Prior to the start of construction, Loflin suggests that all segments of the approved project alignment must be inspected by his department in order to identify and protect any gopher tortoise burrows or nesting birds.