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BOCC approves traffic light for Del Prado Boulevard/Northeast 3rd Terrace intersection

By Staff | May 15, 2012

Cape Coral City Council wasn’t going to take no for an answer this time.

After voting unanimously for a traffic light to be installed on an intersection where a boy was killed two years ago – and sending two letters to the Board of Lee County Commissioners, which had originally struck down the request – the board reconsidered and voted unanimously Tuesday to install the light.

The new signal will be installed at Del Prado Boulevard and Northeast 3rd Terrace.

“We’re ecstatic. It boiled down to the kids need this,” Councilmember Kevin McGrail said. “We led the charge because we don’t want another family to have to live with this.”

In the end, the commissioners decided to put safety and health over what’s best for traffic.

“It was the right thing to do. Even though state and federal warrants don’t rise to the occasion, the children’s safety was paramount,” said John Manning, chairman of the BOCC.

Among those testifying were McGrail, fellow Councilmember Derrick Donnell, and Regan Seyer, 13, whose mother, Kimberly, also spoke on behalf of RaceTrac, the gas station that offered to pay the bill for the traffic light.

“The Santos had a letter drafted to read to the commissioners and (mother Kerri) was afraid she would cry if she read it,” McGrail said. “Regan was the perfect voice for Ryan.”

“The girl was moving in my view. And the council members’ input was important,” Manning said. “Again, it was about the health and welfare of the people of Lee County.”

When the decision was made, the Santos family celebrated tearfully, with Mrs. Santos embracing McGrail.

“We had run the marathon and we reached the end,” McGrail said.

Ryan Santos, 13, was killed trying to cross Del Prado on his bicycle en route to Burton Memorial Park in April 2010. Since then, the City Council has worked to get a traffic signal at that intersection.

But until Tuesday, the pleas had seemingly fallen on deaf ears.

McGrail sent the BOCC a letter March 1, signed by the council. Also, a petition was signed by nearly 1,300 people, and the nearby RaceTrac offer to foot the nearly $300,000 cost for the light.

Back then, it was determined that the intersection did not get enough foot traffic and that Del Prado, a county road under the BOCC’s jurisdiction, didn’t need another signal with 27 of them already between Cape Coral Parkway and Pine Island Road.

County officials planned to build a mid-block crossing with a hybrid signal, the “island of death” as one council member described it.

“I didn’t agree with how the LDOT researched that intersection. RaceTrac had engineers advising them all the way and they said their plan wasn’t safe,” Seyer said. “No business wants to be associated with where a kid was hit and killed.”

However, the nearby park made for a special condition, so the commission decided that was enough to push the light through.

“You can’t rush into things, although two years is longer than anyone expected,” Manning said. “You have to get the correct information before making a decision.”

For McGrail, it was a major triumph for the council and for the city.

“This ranks up there in feel-good moments. It makes me glad to be on the council,” McGrail said.