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Businesses decry removal of turn on Del Prado

By Staff | Feb 2, 2013

If Lee County closes off the left-turn lane at Del Prado Boulevard and Southeast 47th Terrace, one business owner says it could mean an end to his and other businesses on that corner.

Bennett Agranove, owner of Carriage Cleaners, is worried that the plan to eliminate the left-turn lane on Del Prado going south onto 47th going east will cut off all traffic for people wanting to go into the post office and the other businesses.

If the left turn is blocked, people looking to get to his business would have to turn left at Southeast 47th Lane (which has no light), go to Southeast 17th Place, make a U-turn and come back on 47th Terrace, Agranove said.

“To get across Del Prado without a light is impossible because if there’s a stop light on 47th Terrace that stops traffic, then there is a problem because the traffic going west on 47th or turning north onto Del Prado is passing (by), which causes more accidents,” Agranove said.

Lee County DOT counters that the closure of that lane is necessary to help curb accidents at one of the busiest intersections in the area.

Steve Jansen, DOT traffic engineering manager, said the DOT has been doing its homework, and the the left turn there is dangerous.

“The intersection has been identified as one of the most dangerous in the county for right-angle crashes,” Jansen said. “It’s caused by drivers on Del Prado running red lights.”

Lee County DOT was to close the intersection in 2011, but protests from businesses at a downtown Community Redevelopment Agency meeting forced them to reevaluate, Jansen said.

That December, the county decided to shut down the left hand turn onto Southeast 47th Terrace from the southbound Del Prado lanes.

Jansen said the traffic pattern caused too much confusion for drivers.

“You come through the intersection and have to jump over another lane width to get to it,” Jansen said.

Agranove is not alone is his concerns this go-around.

Attorney Mark Horowitz, whose law firm is also in that area, said another route would to be go around Cape Coral Parkway, which would be more circuitous and time consuming.

“We all bought our property with the idea there would be access from Del Prado onto our street,” Horowitz said.

According to information he has received, the no-left-turn will be put in within the next two weeks, , Agranove said.

He added that when he spoke to Jansen about his concerns, Jansen didn’t seem to have his facts straight.

“He said that left-turn lane causes drivers to sideswipe people. They have no information. They didn’t have a survey,” Agranove said. “I asked how many accidents were caused making a left turn, he said he didn’t have those figures at hand. But he said, ‘I would say a couple.'”

“There are accidents at any intersection with four-way traffic. We found some poorly concluded assumptions about accident counts there,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz and Agranove say one solution to the problem would be to have a dedicated left-turn traffic light there.

“We’ve tried to get a green arrow here for a long time. We tried to contact (city transportation manager) Steve Neff and he said there was nothing he can do about it,” Agranove said. “Del Prado is a county road.”

Jansen said the proposed solution is not viable.

“There is no available right-of-way to accommodate that turn,” he said. “You’d have to take a lane away from somewhere. We’d have to expand the road.”

Another suggestion would be to lower the speed limit from that intersection to intersection at Cape Coral Parkway, which Jansen said the county has already done.