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Work to eliminate turn lane begins Monday

By Staff | Feb 16, 2013

Barring an 11th-hour injunction, work to remove the left turn southbound at Del Prado Boulevard and Southeast 47th Terrace will begin Monday.

Friday morning, Bennett Agranove, owner of Carriage Cleaners, which sits east on the northbound side of the intersection, hosted Randy Cerchie, deputy director of the Department of Transportation to try one final time to sway the county from a plan some downtown business owners say could devastate their customer base.

Also attending were attorney Mark Horowitz, who works nearby at Warchol, Merchant & Rollings, and Community Development Agency board member and District 4 city Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz.

Lee County, which has jurisdiction over Del Prado because it is a county road, has maintained that the left turn at the intersection has been one of the reasons for the numerous accidents that occur there annually.

And after the brief meeting, the stance of the county DOT hadn’t changed.

“The intersection averages 24 accidents per year. We could reduce 20 percent of those numbers by eliminating the left turn and straightening the lane lines southbound on Del Prado,” Cerchie said. “Folks won’t have to look down on the lane switch.”

The work starts Monday and it involves reducing the radius west to north from Cape Coral Parkway to Del Prado, fixing up the intersections from 47th Terrace to Coronado, make them compliant, and mill, resurface and reline Del Prado from Cape Coral Parkway to Coronado, Cerchie said.

He said the project would cost about $800,000 and be completed by mid-June. Most of the work will be done at night.

Agranove and business owners in the area contend the removal of the left turn will make people have to detour to get to their locations, which could result in loss of business.

“It will cut off a lot of people who come from the north Cape and make that turn to come here,” Agranove said. “Now, they’ll have to go an extra half-mile to come here. That’s an inconvenience to people in a hurry to come in and get out.”

Agranove contends he has not seen any accidents involving anyone turning left to get to his business.

Horowitz added that he may take the legal route to stop the work before it begins.

“It’s not off the table. That could be the last shot in this,” Horowitz said. “There is a premium paid where there’s direct access to an arterial road like Del Prado and we just lost that value.”

Horowitz said an alternative is to put a dedicated turn signal or reconfigure the other lanes.

Cerchie said the DOT plan is to let people know about the businesses and route them there, albeit indirectly.

“We’re going to examine trailblazing signs, signs indicating businesses on the east side of Del Prado and put a turn somewhere north of 47th Terrace for the businesses,” Cerchie said.

The issue will be examined in two years to see if accidents were reduced.

Chulakes-Leetz, who called the DOT plan a “slight” improvement, said the solution isn’t what they would like it to be and urged citizens to continue patronizing the businesses on the east side of Del Prado.

“It may be somewhat more inconvenient, but I’d like to see the loyalty kept to these particular businesses that have earned our respect,” Chulakes-Leetz said.