It’s Time To Decide

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Accidents on Estero Boulevard are on the rise. The road is busy all the time and at night, especially during turtle season, it’s one of the darkest roads in Lee County. The town of Fort Myers Beach town council now has to decide how to brighten up Estero Boulevard and how much money they want to spend to do it.

Town Lighting, the consultant hired to put together options for the town council to consider for Estero Boulevard, has completed its work and will present a report Thursday evening in the 4:00 hour.

The consultant says a choice must be made for light color and those choices are: White light, which is best for road-user visibility or Amber light which is best for wildlife.

The consultant has also been discussing a dual source light which would be Amber during turtle season and white during non-turtle season.

An example of Amber lighting

The consultant says any of the color options can be designed and implemented and some members of the community believe they are pushing the dual light. From their report: “The dual-source option provides year-round achievable accommodation of road users, pedestrians, bicyclists, and wildlife. Furthermore, it offers flexibility into the future as products evolve.”

The Marine Resources Task Force Committee wants the lights to be Amber year round. The Public Safety Committee wants the lights to be consistent year round whatever they choose.

The council will also need to decide if it wants to get into the lighting business or leave it up to FPL. It’s also important to note Lee County owns Estero Boulevard and has a say. The consultant report says that a town-owned system would offer more robust features not available with an FPL system but cost the taxpayers more money and added liability.

An example of 4K and 3K lights in the consultants study.

Back to the accident statistics. The numbers of bicycle and pedestrian crashes reported on Estero Boulevard have increased over the past two years, compared to the previous three. The consultant report states that if the crash rate remains constant through December, the 2021 numbers would be expected to increase even further through the final 4 months. “This is far from a complete study, which would consider other factors such as the possibility of increased use, signifying a lower crash rate per person. If increased use is indeed occurring, that could cause the County to upgrade Estero Boulevard’s road classification, which would increase the light level requirement.”

The report also includes how several other Florida coastal communities are dealing with the same situation.

Town Lighting was paid up to $185,000 to compile its report.

9 COMMENTS

  1. We are long time (20+ years) visitors to FMB and are now 10+ year residents, so we were accustomed to the lighting and traffic on Estero Blvd. About 12 years ago we started visiting Hilton Head, SC, also an island community. We were totally surprised by the lack of street lighting there. And, yes, the community of HH is just as concerned about its turtle population as is FMB.
    HH also has a huge presence of bicycle riders at all hours of the day and night, so the lack of lighting could be considered dangerous there, but it’s not. Families do not feel threatened by the traffic; drivers seem to understand that there are bicycles and they must be extra vigilant in driving. There are few (if any) high curbs, as there are on Estero Blvd (state laws?); the bike paths share space with pedestrians and are only separated from traffic by a small grassy strip. Granted, the island is larger than FMB and there are more traffic lights and crosswalks, but they are separated significantly, and the bicyclists and pedestrians really think about where they will cross streets, especially since the two main thoroughfares are 4-lane, and are separated by a median. This said, we never hear about accidents, safety, lack of lighting, etc, during our visits there like we hear on FMB. Are residents and visitors there more considerate?

  2. How the heck do you wreck on Estero Blvd. how about put your damn phone down for a second a drive. Lights have nothing to do with it. Doesn’t your car have headlights? Come on people. Back roads don’t have street lights. And you drive fine on those.

  3. What about amber crosswalk lighting imbedded in the pavement. Is that practical? It would be good at busy intersections and those with heavy pedestrian use.

  4. We’ve been coming to FMB for about 30 years and are owners right on the beach now at the north end of the island. We had a turtle nest this year. And there was an additional one next door at Gateway. Apparently the baby turtles were found in the lobby area on the first floor of Gateway near the elevator. Tenants escorted them back to the sea. The lights were on in some units on the beach, so the turtles followed the lights. It’s not so difficult to be a good steward for the animals on our beaches. They make our place unique and not just a high energy place like say, Las Vegas. (Nothing wrong with Las Vegas! But you can go there if that’s what you want.). I agree with the previous commentator about construction possibly being the cause for increase in accidents. It’s not hard to drive in amber lighting if you are going the speed limit. And really, what’s the rush, right? 😁

  5. I’m not saying I don’t care about the turtles because I do care. However, I have been visiting FMB for over 30 years and have been a homeowner for the last 5 years and I have never seen a sea turtle. I’ve seen a few crawls so I know they exist but has anyone ever seen one on Estero Blvd. This road is dark and unsafe and we need to address the safety of people as a priority.

  6. When MRTF states that they do not even consider human safety when evaluating lighting needs, only turtle safety their recommendations don’t hold much value. If in fact that’s what they actually stated publicly — which I understand they did.

  7. Has anyone ever considered that the increase in accidents may be due to the construction that’s been underway on Estero, distracted driving or both? We’ve walk and ride bicycles through the construction and always see people texting and driving. Distracted driving could very well be part of that increase in accidents.

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