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Ideas to be aired at Bayshore pathway meeting
June 13, 2018

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There is a possibility that in the not-so-distant future, the look and feel of Bayshore Road will be a whole lot different, with a shared-use path or sidewalks for bikers and pedestrians for all areas east of I-75.

The Florida Department of Transportation, District One, has set a public information meeting about the Project Development and Environment study for the proposed pathway improvements along Bayshore Road from Park 78 Drive to State Road 31.

The meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, at the Lee Civic Center, Whaley Hall Building at 11831 Bayshore Road.

Zachary Burch, director of public information for the FDOT, said the study is the first step of the process.

"We look at all the factors for any potential project. Economic, environmental, community, business, in any kind of project," Burch said, adding that there is no estimated cost yet.

Department staff will be available to discuss the project, to receive public input, and to answer any questions. The meeting will be an open house format with a video presentation playing continuously throughout the meeting. There will be no formal presentation.

This meeting is being held to allow interested persons an opportunity to be informed and provide comments concerning the location; conceptual design alternatives; and social, economic, and environmental effects of the proposed project for the Bayshore Road (State Road 78) Pathway.

The proposed project will provide a safe, viable non-motorized travel option for commuters and recreational users along the Bayshore Road corridor and the Fort Myers community, improving accessibility to area destinations while minimizing potential impacts to the environment, officials said.

Alternatives being evaluated for this project include either a sidewalk or a shared use path on the north or the south side of Bayshore Road, Burch said.

"We want to get all the input in to see what they like and don't like as well as all the impacts, especially to those who live or have businesses on Bayshore," Burch said. "At the end of the study, we'll have a public hearing with one proposed pathway along with the No-Build option."

The No-Build Alternative, which assumes that no pathway will be provided along Bayshore Road through the year 2040, will remain a viable alternative throughout the PD&E study, Burch said.

What makes this situation unique is that SR 31 is also undergoing three PD&E studies for expansion to four lanes from SR 80 to Cooke Brown Road in Charlotte County.

With Babcock Ranch coming in, this could necessitate the expansion of Bayshore Road from just past I-75 to SR 31, which in turn could impact a pathway.

"As we go on with this, we may put the path back a little further. Those are the things that we really look at in the study and in public outreach," Burch said. "Some people may want the road widened and some don't, especially those in rural areas. We take public input very seriously."

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