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.

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