SUN Trail grant a win for the Cape
A pending pathway through the north Cape could put the city on the map.
Cape Coral is among dozens of communities throughout the state approved to receive Florida Department of Transportation grant money as part of the SUN – or Shared Use Nonmotorized – Trail program approved by the State Legislature in 2015.
The program calls for the creation of a statewide network that ultimately will snake its way from the Panhandle to the Keys along the Gulf Coast; from the state line to the Keys along the Atlantic Coast; and run coast-to-coast across the state with prioritized regional trails being the 250-mile Coast to Coast Connection through Central Florida and the 270-mile St. John’s River-to-Sea Loop.
The Cape’s proposal is for a 6.5-mile multi-use trail from Burnt Store Road to Del Prado Boulevard. The 12-foot wide asphalt path would run along the north side of Van Buren Parkway from Burnt Store Road to El Dorado Boulevard; on the west side of El Dorado Boulevard from Van Buren to Kismet parkways; and on the north side of Kismet Parkway from El Dorado to Del Prado boulevards.
The city culled $1.78 million for design and engineering in the first round of grant awards made in 2016 with construction costs for the $12 million project now earmarked for SUN Trail funding.
The grant approval was quite a coup, especially for bike-friendly, home of Tour de Cape, Cape Coral
Our thanks to Carolyn Conant of Cape Coral Bike-Ped, who brought the grant to the attention of the city, and kudos to the city’s grant-writing team who, on short notice, prepared a persuasive proposal that got the Cape included among the 45 projects throughout 21 counties to be funded via a $225 new-vehicle fee.
This is a project that not only would add a unique component to the Cape’s existing 90-mile network of interconnected bike routes, but would be a nice boost for the city’s $63 million 2017 Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan, which calls for the creation of a 31-mile multi-use path network over the next two decades.
The SUN Trail grant is not in pocket however: Cape Coral City Council still must accept the project design and formally approve the grant money for construction.
We urge them to do so.
The board, which has approved all of the steps along the way thus far, has hesitated now that it’s seen the design.
At issue is an FDOT requirement that SUN Trails be “physically separate” from the roadways along which they run, kind of like sidewalks. The trails, though, are much wider to safely accommodate foot and bike traffic in both directions along the same path. This condition means that the Cape’s 12-foot wide trail, 2-foot trail “corridor,” and 6-foot grass buffer between the roadway will take up the public rights-of-way pretty much all the way to the property lines of all the residential lots along the 6.5-mile stretch.
Most of the lots are undeveloped now, but 16 homeowners will lose the parkable portions of their driveways that cross that now empty right-of-way.
To compensate those homeowners and help all of those lot owners, Council suggests two things: That the city spend $50,000-$100,000 for the construction of driveway “sidepads” for the affected homes and that the city adjust rear lot setbacks by 5 feet so future homeowners don’t face the same “short driveway” conundrum.
Council agreed at its workshop Monday that 1) the grant money is too significant to turn down and 2) the accommodations would be a cheap, and easy, way to get those concerned on board before the matter comes to a vote.
Well, yes, the grant money, especially with nearly $2 million already received and expended, should not be rejected.
And yes, it’s a relatively cheap and easy “fix.”
But one thing for Council members to mull over while they are on hiatus this summer: The precedent of compensating private property owners for public right of way use is a slippery slope as all road widening, sidewalk, bike path and utility projects can have similar impacts.
Just drive any one of Cape Coral’s home- and duplex-dotted major thoroughfares and you will quickly get the picture.
Just some food for thought.
– Breeze editorial