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Traffic tops islander’s concerns

By Staff | Mar 25, 2015

To the editor:

City Hall has finally noticed the long line of idling autos on Periwinkle. Our newest council member, a self-styled authority on government affairs, should have some ideas on the traffic problem but he would leave it to “experts.” His father had better ideas. Mr. Jennings, who said traffic is good for business, has had second thoughts and would “see what other cities do.”

Why haven’t any of Sanibel’s business owners complained? It is difficult to visit stores, such as Ace Hardware, and on leaving it is almost impossible to make a left turn. One of the planning commissioners must have become stuck in traffic, because planning director Jim Jordan said, “Traffic is the top issue on the island we will be talking about.”

The Metropolitan Planning Organization suggests a traffic roundabout at Periwinkle and the Causeway. Have you ever driven through a roundabout? Wow, it is really fun. If you accidently get in the wrong lane, you spin around and around until you either become dizzy and lose control of the car or run out of gas. Do the planners think a roundabout will solve the mile-long backup at the toll booth? Will it help motorists make a left turn on Periwinkle?

Mr. Jason Maugham, a member of the planning commission, said, “If it fails, we can rip it out.”

Isn’t that about the dumbest thing a lawyer ever said? With a lawyer, an insurance salesman and a physician on the planning commission, someone should be literate enough to read the Sanibel Plan that has the solution to our traffic problems. The Sanibel Report of 1974, the basis for the plan, on page 150 says: “Many other areas in this state willingly provide for and solicit the tourist trade. Sanibel offers unique charms for which some people will pay a premium while they last. But if they are destroyed by over use, the city will have little to offer.”

The plan also states, “It has become clear that the provisions of additional road capacity through road widening or a bypass route is not in the best interests of the city. Increased roadway capacity would make Sanibel a less attractive place to live and visit.” (page 86)

The plan further states, “The city has clearly indicated that the desired long-term approach to manage traffic is to reduce volume rather than increase capacity.” (page 88)

The suggestion to reduce traffic is even more explicit on page 92: “Restrict auto access and auto travel within Sanibel. Restrict Sanibel access to a maximum vehicular hourly ‘cap.'”

Is the plan dead? Has the city council and the chamber of commerce eviscerated the bedrock of Sanibel? If the plan is still alive, here are suggestions to lower our volume of traffic.

1. Double tollway fees for nonresidents of Sanibel and Captiva.

2. It should be the civic responsibility for the sponsors of the shell and arts and craft fairs to move these events to downtown Fort Myers or the Lee County Convention Center.

3. Insist on pre-paid advance reservations for parking on public beaches and to enter the wildlife refuge.

4. Establish electronic signs before the causeway, announcing, “Sanibel is full.”

John Raffensperger

Sanibel Island