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Traffic study backfires

Cape flow experiment lengthened travel times

January 16, 2020
Pine Island Eagle

A traffic study designed to improve the flow of traffic on Cape Coral Parkway and over the Cape Coral Bridge made matters worse for motorists.

It also hammered home what some consider the obvious: Merging three lanes of traffic into two is an inherent problem that can't easily be fixed.

Traffic engineer Bill Corbett said traffic engineers in December added more green light time on Cape Coral Parkway from Coronado Parkway to South Pointe Boulevard in Fort Myers and decreased green light time on some of the side streets.

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"We've been working with our transportation advisory commission to see what we can do to make Cape Coral Parkway better," Corbett said. "We did some modeling and some studies and asked what if we increased the green times to help get more traffic through."

Over a two-week span, the results showed that travel time on the 3.4-mile strip of roadway made traffic worse by more than three minutes.

Before the study, the average travel time during morning drive on weekdays was nine minute and two seconds. During the trial period it jumped to 12 minutes, 16 seconds.

This resulted in engineers changing the times back to what they were, which were the optimal signal timings installed in 2018 with some success.

The study, conducted during peak morning hours eastbound, showed the problem stems from a bottleneck with cars turning east off of Del Prado Boulevard onto Cape Coral Parkway, heading onto the bridge, which goes from three lanes down to two, which was stated in the study's final recommendation.

This makes a logical solution of the need to add a third lane to the bridge.

Logical, and very expensive and not set to happen for years, especially for traffic leaving the Cape.

"We need to continue to work with Lee County on future solutions, which would include replacement of the eastbound span, which has about 25 years left on its life," Corbett said. "The westbound one is due to be replaced in 2028."

"It's a problem that needs to be addressed. I know we're going to get information from the exact topic at the next meeting," Mayor Joe Coviello said. "In the next six or seven years we'll have one span paid off, but it's the span going into Cape Coral that will be looked at."

Coviello believes that it will be sooner rather than later that they will have to visit the capacity of the bridge, because he said that's the ultimate issue.

"There are a ton of people getting dumped off Del Prado at the foot of the bridge and then those coming off Cape Coral Parkway and it becomes a bottleneck that we need to deal with in regards to the growth of the city," Coviello said.

Coviello added the one thing the city is planning to do is to extend the left turn lane eastbound onto Del Prado, which he said it currently only holds six or seven cars. He said the new turn lane would hold 15 to 18 cars.

Corbett said the problem also exists on the other side in Fort Myers, but that's in the afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m.

 
 

 

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