LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- More than 10 million dollars are heading to Lee County. The U.S Secretary of Transportation made that announcement during a visit here Thursday afternoon.
The money will be used to build bicycle and pedestrian paths. It's one of 52 projects to receive grant money across the country.
More than 70 miles of new bike paths are coming to Lee County. It's expected to increase safety, and help the local economy by adding jobs, and boosting tourism.
Kate Gooderham is an avid bicyclist, and has a good reason to celebrate Thursday's big announcement.
"It reminded me how powerful cars are," she said. A few years ago she was stuck by a vehicle, while riding her bike. "We need to make it safe for people who make those short trips. And what that does for the people left on the road, it gives them more road!"
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced Lee County's portion of a 10 and a half million dollar grant.
"22 percent of recent roadway crashes right here in Lee County involve injuries or fatalities to pedestrians or bicyclists. Lee county, that is more than twice the national average," Foxx said.
It's one of dozens of transportation projects in 37 states to get funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Eecovery Grant -- simply known as the TIGER grant.
Lee County is putting that money to work, creating 73 new miles of bike paths., Including a 35 mile segment near Lakes Regional Park, a segment linking the FGCU campus to the rest of the county and another segment to link to Bonita Springs and Colleir County.
"Transportation is the backbone to our community. It affects people and lives every day. It affects the choices they make, where they live shop, and go to school," said Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.
The MPO had cited four target areas for project funding:
· Segment 1, Lee County Tour de Parks Route ($6.5 million) is a 35-mile segment, designed to connect several Lee County parks, anchored by Lakes Regional Park in south Fort Myers, and is focused on significantly boosting eco-tourism in this area. This segment will also connect two Spring Training stadiums (JetBlue Park and the Hammond Stadium) to the multi-use path system, encouraging alternative and active transportation to games and entertainment.
· Segment 2, the University Loop ($2.3 million) is a 15-mile segment to fill the gaps in bicycle/pedestrian facilities linking the FGCU campus to the rest of Lee County to encourage bicycle travel.
· Segment 3, Bi-County Connector ($1.6 million) is to be a 22.8-mile long bikeway segment that links Lee County, the City of Bonita Springs, and Collier County. The project will add sidewalks and new bus shelters to further support the phenomenally successful year-old LinC Lee/Collier transit route.