BONITA SPRINGS — Dozens of residents packed Bonita Springs City Hall on Wednesday evening to voice their concern about a proposed widening project on Hickory Boulevard.
Marcia Roach has lived on Hickory Boulevard, which runs the length of Bonita Beach, for 16 years and believes the expansion of four feet on either side of the road would be hazardous. Roach believes even though the lanes would be for bikers, drivers would use them to pass a vehicle ahead of them.
Roach also said residents who own the 127 driveways on the west side of Hickory Boulevard that turn onto the street will be affected by the construction. The street, she said, would become more dangerous for bikers because those residents would would need to pull out into the bike path to check for any oncoming traffic.
However, according to Paul Wingard of the Lee County Department of Transportation (DOT), the changes will make the road safer and more beautiful.
The Lee County Commission must approve the project. If that occurs, construction, is set to begin after the busy season and would take about a month.
“It would take 2 weeks to get the driveways ready, mailboxes moved and then to begin the shoulder project would take two to three days,” Wingard said in his brief presentation before City Council on Wednesday evening. “Once that’s done, we’ll come back and complete overlay, which will give a neat uniform looking roadway.”
Wingard said the county does not have a price estimate yet because it is in the design and contract phase.
The money will be taken from two existing county funds and countywide dollars.
The road currently varies in with from 11 feet to 12 feet. The construction will make the road 11 feet wide in all areas and provide a 4-foot-wide bike lane on the west side, Wingard said.
Wingard also explained that all mailboxes affected by the widening will be moved without any cost to homeowners, as well as any damage incurred from the construction. He also said that those homeowners that wish to ensure their property remains protected, can opt to have their mailboxes cemented into the new location.
Marty Roach understands the project would make his street more beautiful, however, he believes it’s coming at the expense of safety.
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” he said. “There has never been a bicycle accident on the street. There’s no problem with the road.”
Roach believes the solution is not to widen the street, but to lower the speed limit to 25 mph or 30 mph and increase enforcement.
“If people know they are going to get a ticket for speeding, like on Goodlette-Frank Road, they wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Roach also believes that the widening would increase accidents since there are already people passing and speeding on the road, and by making it wider, people would go faster and drive more recklessly.
Council did not vote on the issue on Wednesday.