Lee County leaders say countywide sidewalks are an unrealistic goal

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Cape Coral is taking action trying to make school bus stops safer. But in Lee County, a large portion of the area does not have sidewalks, lighting or benches for kids.

Having these safety features became a hot button issue after two girls died at the bus stop, killed by hit-and-run drivers that are still out there. Parents want to know: what are Lee County commissioners willing to do now?

While Lee County leaders said they are absolutely on board with getting benches and lighting at bus stops, sidewalks may be an unrealistic goal.

Aracelas Gonzalez said she worries about her son every morning and afternoon when he is at the school bus stop in their Lehigh Acres neighborhood.

“His bus stop is off Joan Ave,” Gonzalez said. “People speed through there all the time. No sidewalks, nothing actually. When I was pregnant, we almost got hit by a car when we were at his bus stop.”

Gonzalez said sidewalks are an absolute must. Karli Wheatley, who is a mother of two, could not agree more. She lives nearby, off of State Road 82.

“Personally, we don’t have any sidewalks,” Wheatley said. “I’m always kind of inching onto the grass a lot.”

Lee County has a committee that determines where sidewalks are built each year.

“Using benches, using lighting, those are very important ways we can look at trying to help solve this problem,” said Brian Hamman, a Lee County commissioner. “Right now, to build sidewalks even if you had all the money to physically build the amount of sidewalks that you would have to build throughout this county, it would take years to be able to respond.”

Hamman told WINK News the county best estimate is billions of dollars to put in sidewalks in Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers and the remainder of Lee County. They prioritize busy roads over those in neighborhoods.

Organizations, like Benches for Our Babes, are already stepping up to get benches and lighting throughout Lehigh Acres, which both of these mothers hope becomes the commissioners top priority.

“That should be what our money is spent on first in for most is the kids and their safety,” Wheatley said.

“I think Lehigh needs a little more attention,” Gonzalez said.

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