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Informational session on Burnt Store widening set

By Staff | Jan 22, 2011

The Northwest Neighborhood Association is planning a late February informational meeting open to all residents regarding plans to widen Burnt Store Road.
The meeting’s purpose it to prepare people for a county workshop one week later.
“We’re trying our best to do the best job of presenting this information to the people so they come in as informed as they can be,” NWNA member Nate Bliss said Thursday during a Burnt Store Right of Way Committee meeting.
Bliss said the NWNA didn’t feel the public was “adequately briefed” before the last Burnt Store widening workshop in 2006.
Most walked away more confused than educated, Bliss said, something they hope to avoid nearly five years later.
Also a member of the committee, Bliss added, “Pre-education is what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Lee County Department of Transportation staff presented an updated widening plan to the committee, including added u-turns and lighted paths for pedestrian walkways underneath the canal bridges.
NWNA and committee member Rich O’Donnell said the lighted pathways addressed one concern of the neighborhood association, but was curious as to their overall safety.
“Being in law enforcement for 33 years, those locations are going to be impossible to be patrolled by a car,” O’Donnell said. “They have to be patrolled by bicycles … we want our residents to be safe down there.”
The updated widening plan also calls for bicycle crossings over what would be the southbound lanes of the future Burnt Store Road. The crossings would be marked, of course, but they would have little else to protect people crossing the street.
At speeds of up to 55 mph, Rich O’donnell wondered just how difficult it would be to get people to slow and yield to bicyclists.
“You can’t walk out in front of cars in a shopping center parking lot and expect them to stop. and they’re going five miles an hour,” O’Donnell said.
The project is being funded with both state and local money, and is scheduled for 2014 – 2015.
Both the north and southbound lanes of the current Burnt Store Road will become the southbound lanes when the project is completed.
The new northbound lanes will have new bridges which will feature the lighted pedestrian pathways, but those paths will not extend to the southbound lanes.
Burnt Store Road will eventually become a “super street”, taking the four lanes to six, but the time table for that expansion is unknown, according to the Lee County Department of Transportation.
The Northwest Neighborhood Association’s informational meeting will be Feb. 17, from 7 – 9pm, at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School.
Lee County’s workshop will be Thursday, Feb. 24, from 5 – 7 pm at the German American Social Club.