homepage logo

Ding Darling transportation study details offered at open house

By Staff | Mar 22, 2012

The public once again will get a look at a revised version of the Alternative Transportation Study recommendations for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge during an open house March 29 at the Sanibel Community House.

The revisions are a product of previous workshops, analysis, data collection, agency direction and public meetings conducted since the study was commissioned in May 2007. The public is invited to view a short slide show, review the project recommendations, ask questions and provide additional comments from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way.

“We hope it allows us to reduce traffic on Wildlife Drive so that more people can use the refuge by bicycle and tram,” said Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik. “We’re looking at a tram vehicle that runs on renewable fuel like solar or electricity that will put out less pollution and be more efficient.”

Elements of the revised recommendations include:

Improve safety for wildlife to cross Sanibel-Captiva Road

New trail connecting Tarpon Bay Recreation Area to the shared use path

Enhanced Refuge wayfinding plan

Bailey Tract wayfinding to the shared use path

Expanded Refuge parking options at existing overflow parking

Bicycle rentals at the Refuge

Enhancements to Refuge trams and a new Refuge shuttle service

An additional goal is to improve visitor mobility and accessibility and enhance visitor experience. Based on input received at the public meeting in April 2011 and an online survey on the project website, the recommendations no longer include circulator service outside the refuge and more than 20 other suggestions have been eliminated.

Funded by the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Public Parks Program, the study was established to address increasing vehicle congestion in and around national parks and other federal lands that threatens the environment and diminishes the visitor experience.

“We want to improve bicycle and pedestrian access at the Tarpon Bay area with a new pathway, giving those people better access to the recreation area,” said Tritaik. “Right now the bikes have to share the roadway with private vehicles entering.”

Once the recommendations are final, the project will be taken to the City of Sanibel and the Lee County Commission for approvals.

“This would be our sixth public meeting,” said Tritaik. “There were a lot of revisions and we are really close. Once we get all the approvals from the city, the county and my bosses we could (implement) the changes by the end of the calendar year (2012).”

To review project documentation prior to the open house, visit the project website www.dingdarlingtransportation.com after March 23.