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Council supports school bus bench pilot program

By Staff | May 8, 2019

Cape Coral Rotary and Kiwanis got approval Monday for a school bus stop bench pilot program that comes in response to the death of an 8-year-old girl who was struck by vehicle last month while waiting for her bus.

Cape Coral City Council approved the program after representatives from the clubs and Police Chief David Newlan spoke of raising funds to install 200 benches throughout the city in time for the first day of school in August.

“When this happened, we texted the chief and said we wanted to be part of the solution, but we’re only one spoke in the wheel,” said Rotarian Elmer Tabor. “The Kiwanis has stepped up as a partner and I can’t tell you how much the community is stepping up.”

More than $100,000 has been pledged for the initiative with Rotary and Kiwanis each donating $50,000.

Newlan said there have been 11 incidents involving children and school buses in the past 10 years.

There are more than 1,600 bus stops in Cape Coral alone.

Mayor Joe Coviello thanked everyone for their participation.

“You went about this the right way with the city. It’s sad what happened and we need multiple levels of safety,” Coviello said. “This is a great start.”

“This is the best idea we’ve had this year. I challenge residents to put these benches together and help the Rotary,” said Councilmember David Stokes.

He and his family have donated a bench.

In a vote that also focused on children safety, the council also had another discussion on traffic safety features at the Oasis School complex.

Currently, there is a marked school zone with reduced speed limits during school hours, pedestrian signage in a school zone and a full-time crossing guard during school hours at a single location.

City Council requested staff to provide alternatives to enhance the existing school zone and crossing location at the city charter school. Three alternatives were developed for consideration.

Traffic Engineer Bill Corbett presented council with the options on how to address the issue. Council chose one that removed the existing gate and on-site pedestrian crosswalk and created new ones at the end of Oasis Middle School and a concrete or asphalt landing.

The cost would be about $8,000, and council approved that option unanimously, though some expressed reservations about using any of the options.

The city has tossed around the idea of putting in a marked crosswalk at the Oasis complex for four years. Because a minimal number of students who walk or ride their bikes to school (about 25 per day), staff expressed concern that the installation of a mid-block crossing in this location could provide a false sense of security for pedestrians using the crosswalk during off-school hours.

Also, there is no history of any crashes attributed to the school zone or crossing movement, according to a letter from staff.

Oasis Elementary, Middle and High school are side by side along Oasis Boulevard.

The municipal charter school system also has a second elementary school, Christa McAuliffe, on Southwest 3rd Lane.