Punta Gorda bridge project creates safer path for cyclists, pedestrians

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Construction workers at the site of the Punta Gorda bridge project to cross Alligator Creek. The $1.3 million project is an effort to give bicyclists and pedestrians safe passage along a busy stretch of U.S. 41. Credit: WINK News..

A path in a Charlotte County community comes to a stop and is marked with an end trail sign. For years, this pushed bicyclists and pedestrians onto a bridge traveling just a few feet from cars. The new project should make trips safer and more enjoyable.

A new pedestrian bridge is being constructed to cross Alligator Creek in Punta Gorda near U.S. 41, north of Jones Loop Road. It will enhance safety for path users, but the $1.3 million project is also concerning local taxpayers.

Cyclists in Punta Gorda enjoy the trails in their community.

“I like that it’s flat, and it’s easy,” Bob Zakaras said. “And it’s a good way to get around.”

But the trail along U.S. 41 on both sides of Alligator Creeks is a bit more dangerous.

“I watch the traffic because I’ve seen cars have trouble and pull off and not pay attention,” Cliff Huebner said.

That’s why crews are building a 110-foot cyclist and pedestrian bridge over the creek, connecting the two sides.

But not everyone supports the price tag over $1 million. Most of it will be funded by Florida Department of Transportation, while the rest of the money will come from the city.

“I don’t think it’s worth that,” Huebner said. “Because it’s taxpayer money, and that always comes out of your pocket eventually.”

Others believe it takes the big dollars to complete these types of city projects.

“All infrastructure is expensive,” Zakaras said. “And it is what it is.”

Drivers can expect periodic lane closures along the affected stretch of northbound U.S. 41, just north of Monaco Drive, until the project is completed in early 2020.

The project will finish another part of the current 18-mile pathway, making Southwest Florida even more cyclist friendly.

“I would like to see more bike trails throughout Punta Gorda period,” Zakaras said.

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