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East End path project welcomed

By Staff | Apr 8, 2013

JIM LINETTE East End bike path users from Kings Crown to the Lighthouse have waited years for the improvements that are scheduled to be made this summer.

Sanibel Public Works greeted more than 40 residents, visitors and other interested guests Wednesday at an open house at MacKenzie Hall. They were drawn there to view details of the Periwinkle Way road and Shared Use Path improvement project that has been more than three years in the planning stage.

The estimated $600,000 project is the next phase of Sanibel’s bike path master plan to widen the path and implement changes to make path users safer. The funds will come from road impact fees and Sanibel’s general fund.

“The path will be widened from six feet to 10 feet plus a five-foot grass buffer between the path and the roadway,” said Public Works director Keith Williams. “That means we have to shift the road on the north side by five to seven feet.”

Surveyors have been working the East End for many months from Kings Crown to Lighhouse Beach.

“Residents have been waiting a long time for this,” said Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra. “Everyone has been positive about the project because it is a safety issue.”

“The people I’ve talked to has been nothing but favorable,” said Williams. “They’ve waited for this a long time.”

Every summer for the last several years various portions of the bike paths on the island have been widened and repaved as well as a few new sections added. There now are more than 25 miles of shared use path on the island.

“If we don’t have to make changes after today’s open house,” said Williams, “we will go deeper into the details, then put the project out for bidding before the end of April. We’ll open the bids in May and, hopefully, get it before the City Council meeting in June.”

Williams added that construction could begin as early as July with the goal of completing the improvements in the fall before “season.”

Dawn Ramsey, who owns a business on Periwinkle in the project zone, stopped by the open house for information. She has been planning landscaping improvements at her location and wanted to know if the two would impact each other.

“It’s good timing for my landscaping,” Ramsey said. “I’m excited about the wider path because it gets congested in a lot of areas.”

Williams said he will meet with Ramsey’s landscaper to avoid any complications.

“I’m an interested non-resident of the area,” said Joe Lutz. “I’ve done a lot of work, engineering and surveying, on the island and I think this is a great plan.”

East End resident Ed Kleinow attended the open house to gauge any impact on his property.

“I have no vegetation in the right-of-way, so I don’t see much impact,” Kleinow said. “We will enjoy the new path because it has been rough down there.”

Planning Commissioner John Talmage lives on Periwinkle in the project zone.

“Any improvement to the bike path is a good thing,” Talmage said. “I’m just a consumer on this issue.”

Seasonal residents Rita and Ed Robak are avid bikers and use the East End path frequently.

“The project looks very good,” Ed said. “We are here five months every year and have waited a long time for this project.”

Even the Sanibel Bike Club was represented at the open house.

“The provements are long overdue,” said club board member Bill Sartoris. “It will enhance the safety issues of the congested East End path.”

Other capital improvement projects on the slate for this summer include Lighthouse Beach restroom construction; miscellaneous Shared Use Path widening; rehabilitation of the Lighthouse; Dinkins Bayou dredging and Clam Bayou box culvert repairs; general island road resurfacing; and installing a bike path and a dune walkover replacement at Bowman’s Beach. All projects this summer are estimated to cost more than $2.7 million with funds to come from a range of beach parking fees, fuel tax money, general fund and Tourist Development Council (TDC) grants.