Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Overview Details 7_13_2008

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July 13, 2008

Committee on Island Congestion Current Priorities : VEHICULAR CONGESTION Background . The best metric we have for vehic ular congestion is causeway crossings . Vehicles crossing the causeway increased steadily from the opening of the facility in 1963 until 2001 , when they peaked at 3,460,000 . Traffic stayed at about that level until Hurricane Charley in August of 2004 . In the twelve months following the hurricane vehicle crossings dropped 500,000 below the preceding year . There has been some increase since then , but the annual rate remains below 3,000,000 . The attached Document V - 1 gives details . Current Activity . In D ecember of 2007 City Council approved in principle hiring a consultant to study transportation alternatives for visitors to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge . The study is the result of a $ 700,000 grant authorized by the 2005 federal Transportation Act ; it s official name is the Sanibel Alternative Transportation in Parks and Pub lic Lands Program Project . A consortium of Sa nibel , Lee Tran , and the Refuge is supervising the project , with Lee Tran serving as the project manager . Document V - 2 attached is the draft of the consultant’s Scope of Work statement . While the stated purpose of the project sounds narrow , the data collection phase has a rather broad scope . The Committee hopes that the study will provide useful information for Sanibel’s transportation planning and is tracking the activity . We hope that the recommendations will help the city deal with congestion . We are aware of the risk that proposed solutions focused on the Refuge may have unintende d bad effects on overall congestion on the Island . . SHARED USE PATHS Background . Sanibel has 23 miles of paved shared use pathways , used mainly by bicyclists and pedestrians . Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the paths , with the exception of controlled use of Segways on managed tours . Pathway maintenance is a s ignificant expense for the City . In a November , 2006 presentation , COTI included City information that SUP maintenance costs the previous fiscal year were approximately $ 15,000 per mile , about the same as the maintenance cost for roadw ays . The City will be opening new bids for maintenance this month . There are hopes that the current construction slowdown in our area will produce lower costs . The only significant recent change affecting the paths was the relocation of part of Periwinkle Way in 2007 , to move it farther from the path for safety reasons . The cost for the relocation and associated changes was $ 1.5 million . Segways . COTI has consistently opposed the operation of Segways on the shared use paths because of concern for safety . The following extract from a May , 2007 submission to City Council expands on our rationale . “ In the January discussions at Council on Segways , COTI took the position that these devices have a bad accident record on Sanibel , and should be barred for safety reasons . Our view didn’t prevail , but it hasn’t changed . The record of the meetings at that time describes four Segway accidents during the trial period , two of them involving serious bodily injury . It appears that the consultants ’ recommendation relied on national data , without a review of the Sanibel record . We regret that we still have the tours , but at least the tours have guides who can warn pedestrians of the possibility of approaching danger . There would be no such assurance for individual riders . Motorized vehicles do not belong on the shared use paths . We believe that the curre nt ordinance should be retained . ” Current Acitivity . Sanibel has been working on the development of a Master Plan for shared use paths for some time . The City retained a consultant to assist in this effort . The consultant’s report , submitted in April , 2007 , was not acc eptable to Council . The draft report has be en undergoing revision since then . COTI has provided three statements in connection with this project . The first was in November , 2006 , for a public open house . It is attached as Document S - 1 . In May of 200 7 we submitted a commentary on the consultant’s report , attached as Document S - 2 . In May of 2008 we made a slight modification to our position on the width of shared use paths . The resulting position statement is attached as Document S - 3 . We expect that a revised draft report will appear soon . We plan to offer comments at that time . BEACH CARRYING CAPAC ITY . Carrying capacities are not receiving current attention . We want to learn more about carrying capacities of fragile environments . We are look ing at loads on both beaches and other fragile ecosystems . We would be pleased to partner with other institutions that have similar interests . Our sense is that the best approach is to find one or two volunteers willing to undertake this research . We expect that they would use the internet and networking with people in the field . Thus we see the characteristics of likely individuals as : ? Skilled in web searches . ? Knowledgeable about academia and the role of research in it ; probably based on graduate st udy . ? Good interpersonal skills for networking . ? Probably island resident s .

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