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Traffic update provided at Planning Commission meeting

By Staff | Apr 19, 2017

An update regarding traffic and the discussion of a possible roundabout were provided by Mayor Kevin Ruane during the City of Sanibel Planning Commission meeting last week.

A study was done to analyze roundabouts in 18 locations through Lee County, mostly in the jurisdiction of Fort Myers. From a technical ranking, Periwinkle Way, the Causeway and Lindgren Boulevard came in number one for a roundabout.

The Tourist Development Council advertises about $25 million, which includes the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Ruane said everything they are trying to do with helping the traffic situation on the island, about $150,000 in the city’s budget, is very small in comparison to what is happening.

“That’s why we sit at the table and try to have some discussion,” he said of going to such meetings as the Tourist Development Council because a common discussion revolves around traffic.

Ruane touched upon the discussion regarding the Lindgren Boulevard, Periwinkle Way and Causeway Boulevard roundabout.

“The challenge with the roundabout issue is we do not own the roads, we don’t own the causeway and quite frankly just the logistics of a right of way are things we need to have forecasted for 2021,” he said. “Logistically I don’t see how you move that up.”

As a member of the executive committee for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, he said they are about $5 billion short of project funding. Ruane said that results in looking at the project’s priorities.

“We are looking at the information they are giving to us. We seem to be the number one project. It has gone through the 30 percent phase. But, honestly if anyone remembers some of the things they have done in the past, that circular bus thing that was going through ‘Ding’ Darling, that took about seven years,” Ruane said.

To give individuals some indication, he said when the federal and state government work together things move at an extremely slow pace.

Planning Commission Chair Phillip Marks asked how much of a voice Sanibel has in terms of having a roundabout on the island.

Ruane said he believes home rule will always be the issue.

“Secondarily, more importantly, anything that we do with the county, or the state, we have to have what is known as a local agreement,” he said. “Generally speaking you enter into a local agreement – we have it with the Causeway, we have it with the beach – it is a contract. We will make sure we go through the due diligence.”

Ruane said he would like to establish a time frame between 2017 and 2021 to determine the steps of how they do things. He said he wants to ensure the public that they are going to listen to the information, listen to the experts and have open public meetings.

As a citizen, Chuck Ketterman said he believes the city’s traffic initiatives is helping the congestion on the island.

“Not that it is making cars disappear in great numbers, but it is spreading the load enough that we don’t seem to have the horrible back ups at three and four in the afternoon like we have in the past. That’s probably the best we could ever hope for,” he said.

Ruane said he does not believe there has been a dozen bad days on the island because the message is to come to Sanibel early and stay late.