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County OKs Burnt Store street lighting

By Staff | Jun 20, 2019

A county-owned road Cape Coral residents said was dangerously dark will get street lights much earlier than planned.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to expedite lighting along Burnt Store Road.

Initially, these lights were to be installed upon the completion of the south segment of the Burnt Store Road project, slated to start early next year.

Now, installation will begin in September.

The Northwest Neighborhood Association maintained that the area is too dark and a hazard to pedestrian and vehicular traffic along the renovated roadway.

The $1.7 million cost of installing these lights is already cut out in the project budget.

“Burnt Store Road is pitch black from sundown to sunset. The east side has no lighting, while the west side has minimal spot lighting that does not illuminate the roadway,” said NWNA Vice President John Karcher at Tuesday’s meeting. “It is extremely difficult to see the exits and the U-turn ramps.

“The darkness makes this great new road extremely dangerous. Crossing on foot or bike is even more dangerous in the dark.”

Currently, the north segment (Van Buren to Diplomat) has been completed, the central segment (Diplomat to Tropicana) will be finished later this year and the south segment (Tropicana to Pine Island) begins construction in early 2020.

Originally, roadway lighting was to be installed along all segments of the project as part of the south segment construction, which would have seen light installation not arrive until June or July of next year.

The county agreed to expedite the lighting in the north and central segments, beginning this September.

“This was our way to respond to the residents that share the same concerns I do about lighting along Burnt Store Road,” said District 4 Lee County Commissioner, Brian Hamman. “We made amenities to make the roads safer for pedestrians, bikers and walkers — and that includes proper lighting. It was very clear that now us the time the road get lit up.”

The south segment lighting will be installed following its completion.

The NWNA made this request in April, as residents urged for lighting on roadways that are heavily populated, especially in dark, morning commutes by cars, bikes and pedestrians — some children — alike.

“Burnt Store Road is the route most of us in the northwest Cape use at least twice a day, if not more often,” said Karcher. “With the growth in the northwest, this corridor is currently very heavily traveled by residents from across the city, and that traffic is only increasing. Cape Coral has no I-75 exit. Burnt Store is our emergency route.

“We expect that more students will be crossing Burnt Store en route to Mariner High. As you know, one student was struck at a dark crosswalk. Many residents have been using the initial multi-use path, that has multiple regularly to bike. That often means crossing before sun rises to avoid the heat.”

Karcher also noted that the new multi-use path has many unlighted crosswalks, and that new sidewalks on Tropicana will lead to more foot traffic — most notably from students.

“After the accident with the student walking to Mariner in April, I requested that the County Commissioners expedite the lighting,” Hamman said.

Karcher also praised the commissioners for the work done thus far in the north and central segments of the project, and for listening to the residents of the northwest Cape when it came to issues.

“Your team has done a wonderful job on the north and central section. The communications we have had with them has been excellent,” Karcher told the commissioners prior to their vote. “We are very grateful that you listened to our concurs and are considering taking action to expedite the lights to keep our families safe. Thank you from our members and all of Cape Coral.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj