MARCO ISLAND — Installing new street lights on Bald Eagle Drive is a win-win for businesses and residents.
“The street is very dark, and in the summer when there are fewer people here, it is difficult to find the parking lot where you are going,” said Arturo Perez, owner of Arturo’s Italian Restaurant at 844 Bald Eagle Drive.
Perez said the new street lights will make finding his business easier for his customers.
Marco Island has a signage ordinance, so increasing the size of his business sign is not an option.
Tim Pinter, Marco Island’s public works director, said his department has already installed a series of lights in the business district on Bald Eagle Drive from Collier Boulevard to Barfield Drive. Plans are to install streetlights north past Pier 81 to Palm Street and then west on Palm Street to the Olde Marco Inn & Suites.
In the stretch already completed, streetlight poles resemble the concrete green poles used on Collier Boulevard. Remaining roadways will be lighted with less expensive aluminum poles, Pinter said.
In the winter when early mornings are darkest, passengers going by boat to Key West from Marco Island must cross Bald Eagle Drive at Rose Marina. The Marina’s lot for extended parking is across the street from its docks. New lighting will make the area safer for pedestrians.
Public Works is installing the poles at the request of Marco Island City Council that approved the expenditure in its fiscal 2011 budget. Council responded to requests from residents in the area to upgrade lighting after the area proved dangerous.
“We had a fatality on that street and some residents in condos were concerned about the lack of lights,” said Jerry Gibson, chairman of Marco Island’s City Council. “They were looking for safety particularly in the evenings when crossing the road.”
Over the years, the area has been the site of numerous automobile accidents. In a 2009 police study, the island’s most likely area for crashes was within a quarter mile of the Bald Eagle Drive and Collier Boulevard intersection including adjacent parking lots.
Lights in the completed section will be in service as soon as Lee County Electric Cooperative is able to provide power to them, Pinter said.
Installation of poles on the remaining stretch of Bald Eagle Drive and Palm Street will take about two months. There should be no road closures during installation as much of the work will be done in the swales, Pinter said. However, some minor detours around equipment might be necessary.