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Cape to push county for Del Prado light

By Staff | Apr 21, 2012

The Cape Coral city council has not given up on trying to get a traffic light installed at an intersection where a child was struck and killed by a car two years ago.

But convincing the county board has proven troublesome, even with a local business willing to foot the bill.

Mayor John Sullivan will again put forth a resolution at the city council’s regular meeting Monday requesting the Board of County Commissioners install a traffic light at the corner of Del Prado and Northeast 3rd Terrace.

On March 1, Councilmember Kevin McGrail hand delivered a letter to the BOCC urging it to reconsider its decision not to put a traffic light at that intersection.

“The letter was signed by the entire council and was hand delivered,” McGrail said. “That’s the kind of support it had.”

The proposed light would give pedestrians a place to cross to gain access to nearby Burton Memorial Park, many of them children.

“We’re sending them a letter to let them know we have interest,” Sullivan said. “We’re afraid someone else is going to get killed over there.”

In April 2010, Ryan Michael Santos, 13, was struck by a vehicle when he attempted to cross Del Prado on his bicycle, just south of Northeast Third. Ryan, who was not wearing a helmet, was ejected from his bike and later died.

Since then, residents have asked something be done to slow down traffic on the six-lane road, and submitted a petition with 1,300 signatures to make their point.

“That park is like a magnet pulling them across,” Sullivan said.

The RaceTrac convenience store on 314 Del Prado Blvd. has offered to pay the $300,000 bill for the signal’s installation.

“You can’t ask for anything more. Talk about good neighbors,” Sullivan said.

However, the county commission, which has final say on the matter because Del Prado is a county road, isn’t sure another traffic signal on a road with 27 of them between Cape Coral Parkway and Pine Island Road is the answer.

“We made clear that a traffic signal doesn’t meet the criteria of standards that make a signal warranted,” said David Loveland, Lee County DOT director. “The warrant study done by RaceTrac showed it didn’t meet any criteria.”

Sullivan and McGrail said the DOT study was faulty, as it was done during a weekday when kids were in school.

“They conducted 12 hours of studies over two days,” McGrail said. “You don’t have banker’s hours when you do these.”

McGrail also said the extra signal shouldn’t affect the flow of traffic.

“The light can be synced with the rest of them. It won’t be an issue 90 percent of the time,” McGrail argued.

The commission has made plans to put concrete medians in to stop left turns onto Del Prado, saying signals are meant to give drivers a chance to pass through an intersection, not protect pedestrians.

“The council still prefers a full signal. We recognize this is a serious issue, but an unwarranted signal in the guise of pedestrian safety isn’t what they’re made for,” Loveland said. “It sets a dangerous precedent.”

Sullivan hopes the BOCC takes the council’s words to heart if the resolution passes.

“They have their heads stuck in a traffic manual. Common sense should be used here,” Sullivan said. “It’s better they see what we need rather than what the county thinks we need.”