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Bus stop ‘safe zones’ proposed

By Staff | May 2, 2019

With more than $100,000 pledged, a pilot program to install permanent “safe zones” for Cape Coral students at bus stops is headed to City Council for approval Monday.

The program, developed by a stakeholders group, calls for the positioning of 200 “safe zones” at semi-permanent bus stops throughout Cape Coral, complete with concrete slab, bench, potential lighting, signage and reflective materials.

The bus stop improvements would be funded with community donations, primarily from Cape Rotary and Kiwanis clubs as well as local businesses.

“If approved on Monday, we’ll order all 200 benches on Tuesday,” said Elmer Tabor, a member of the stakeholders group on behalf of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral.

The stakeholder group is made up of Rotarians, city officials, county officials and school district officials. The school board has signed off on the pilot program.

Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag, who was an integral part of forming the panel, is set to present the program to Council on Monday.

If approved, work would begin immediately.

“We’ll go into operation mode,” said Tabor.

Tabor said he plans on having the slabs in before the 200 benches arrive so that when they do, they’ll have a home.

Each slab size will be customized based on location. Locations selected will be based on need, size of the bus stop, if a stop is in a dangerous location and more.

Tabor said the school district is finalizing a list as to where it recommends the 200 safe zones be located, as there are, give or take, 450 semi-permanent bus stops in Cape Coral.

He said those that already have adequate lighting may be the first to get slabs, but that they are prepared to attach solar lighting if necessary.

“We’re prepared for any scenario,” Tabor said.

The cost of the 200 benches is $80,000, not including concrete slabs, lighting, reflective materials, and any other improvements deemed necessary.

The Rotary Club is now partnering with Kiwanis, which Tabor said will match the $50,000 the Rotary club is offering as “seed money,” so that they can for sure place the order once approved.

Much of the concrete and other materials are being donated by local businesses.

The project also is accepting public donations. Visit capecoralrotary.com .

A business that wishes to remain anonymous at this time has already pledged $5,000, said Tabor.

Tabor believes that this will gain approval from Council, saying that when, not if, the elected board approves it, the real work can begin.

He believes that other cities can use their model if they wish to do the same for bus stops throughout Lee County.

Tabor said the group has worked tirelessly on getting the logistics of this pilot program worked out, and that organizations that have stepped up while they were working out a more long-term solution have been appreciated.

City Council meets Monday at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall in the Council Chambers at 1015 Cultural Park Boulevard.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj