BY LIZA STROUT - Placida Road will be a little safer for pedestrians and bicyclists in the next couple of years, which may lead to increased bicycle traffic to Boca Grande.
However, plans to widen the road from two to four lanes have been put on the back burner.
On Tuesday, the Charlotte County Commission voted to shelve the expansion, for which they have already spent $2 million in engineering costs, and in a 4-1 vote, agreed to buy the Placida Road right-of-way between Rotonda Boulevard West and Cape Haze Drive. It is expected to cost another $5 million, but commissioners argued that it would be better to purchase the land now rather than wait until expansion is required and prices have gone up.
The project, which includes a 2.9 miles pedestrian/bicycle path, will also see improvements to the intersections of Placida Road and Lemon Bay Golf Course, Panama Drive, Bantry Bay and Cape Haze Drive, along with the resurfacing of Placida Road from Rotonda Boulevard West to the Boca Grande Causeway. County officials have budgeted $3.3 million for the project.
On September 18, the commission approved street lighting from Rotonda Blvd. West to Cape Haze Drive.
Streetlights will begin to be installed at a time as yet to be determined. Construction on the new bicycle/pedestrian path is expected to begin in late 2013 or early 2014.
The commission did not decide what to do with $20 million in sales taxes that has been budgeted for the expansion project, but Commissioner Skidmore recommended that it be allocated to pedestrian and bike paths in the western portion of Charlotte County.
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