With assistance from Sanibel Public Works Director Keith Williams, representatives from Kittelson & Associates, a transportation engineering firm, presented Sanibel City Council with the findings from a crosswalk policy study it conducted in recent months.
The city's crosswalk policy standards have not been changed for many years and needed to be updated to address the safety and increased use of the city's shared use path system. Minimum standards include ample sight distances at crosswalks, signage, markings, lighting and traffic control devices as well as accessibility for disabled persons.
The study provided four alternatives to current conditions at three specific crosswalk locations identified in advance by city staff - the 1000 block of Periwinkle Way just west of Bailey Road; Tarpon Bay Road at Island Inn Road; and Periwinkle Way at the Casa Ybel intersection.
City Council listened to a presentation at its July 16 meeting by Kettelson & Associates on the city's crosswalk policy study. The study recommends a new crosswalk and easements for a path connecting Dairy Queen, Lazy Flamingo and the new Bennett's Fresh Roast properties on Periwinkle Way.
With staff approval, Kittelson recommended installing a new crosswalk between the driveways serving Dairy Queen and Lazy Flamingo with additional shared use path easement and construction to the east connecting Dairy Queen, Lazy Flamingo and the new Bennett's Fresh Roast still under construction. The advantage of the alternative is proximity to the businesses while minimizing conflict with turning vehicles over the other alternatives.
The recommendation met with the approval of the Sanibel Bike Club and the owners of all three businesses, who stated their support and need for the project. However, the owners were opposed to a 10-foot path that would cause undue expense to move business signs farther off the road, but a 7- or 8-foot path would be adequate.
Council members also support the recommendation and expressed the need to get the project completed before season. Williams said a narrower path would be possible, agreed with council on the urgency and believed the contractor currently making improvements to the shared use path along east Periwinkle Way could undertake the construction thus providing a cost savings to the city.
"I think it is possible to piggyback the East Periwinkle contract," said Williams.
At the Casa Ybel intersection, the study recommendation is to move the crosswalk serving Jerry's Supermarket from the east side of the intersection to the west side. It would lessen confrontations with turning vehicles. A pull-off area would have to be installed on the southwest corner of the intersection in front of Mango Bay and make it necessary to widen the driveway to Jerry's. A wide majority of vehicles exiting that driveway turn left, to go east on Periwinkle taking the crosswalk out of the way, the traffic study showed.
"I think this is the most important crosswalk area we have to consider," said council vice chairman Doug Congress.
Council, however, asked staff to return with more recommendations on safety, design and engineering at the intersection.
Kettelson recommended short-term and long-term recommendations at the third site on Tarpon Bay Road. Short-term plans are to put a crosswalk on the north side of the Island Inn Road intersection to connect to the Bailey's General Store parking lot.
Long-term, the recommendation is to extend the shared use path from Island Inn Road north to Sanibel Boulevard in front of a vacant commercial parcel. Owners of that parcel are in preliminary plans to develop a restaurant on the site in the near future. Though development permits have not yet been applied for, councilman Marty Harrity is part of the site's ownership group and offered to provide the city with a preliminary site plan to help expedite implementing the long-term recommendation.
Council instructed staff to proceed with short-term recommendation and summarize the conditions for the long-term plan.
Among the consent agenda items passed by council included transferring $37,000 from the city's environmental reserves to help fund the citizen fertilizer education program interlocal agreement with Lee County being spearheaded by councilman Mick Denham for more than a year.
Also, the city awarded a contract to Stokes Marine in the amount of $139,514 for the construction of the Pond Apple Park/Shipley Boardwalk path connection. Seaton Paving and Sitework was the winning bidder to make repairs to the city's shared use path in the amount of $128,179.
In other business, council recognized two city employees for their service, including Public Works Department mechanic Grant Lipps for his 25 years of service. Sandra McDougall was honored by council and her peers as she retires from Sanibel Recreation Center as the seniors program administrator.