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'I'll never use it': Winkler Road sidewalk moves closer to road, raising concern

Residents worried about safety of pedestrians and bicyclists
Posted at 8:06 PM, May 16, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — People who live along Winkler and Summerlin roads reached out to Fox 4, expressing concern over a construction project they say will put lives at risk.

About a week ago, neighbors noticed construction starting.

"So sidewalk work — what does that mean?" said Donn Davids, who lives along Winkler Road.

The end result wasn't what he or Ron House thought it would be.

"It's just too dangerous," House said.

"This is when pedestrians and cyclists and school kids all use it in the morning because it's the only shade," Davids said.

They're talking about how close a new sidewalk is to Winkler Road. It used to be about 30 feet away.

Fox 4 measured the new sidewalk to the edge of the asphalt and it's not only three-and-a-half feet away.

"I'll never use it," Davids said.

He and House and trying to figure out why Lee County decided to move it.

Davids believes it could be because the old sidewalk tends to flood.

"You don't solve a puddle problem by relocating everything," Davids said. "During rainy season, right here we would probably get a puddle that would persist for a few days."

He also thinks it could be the trees.

"You can't make an excuse of well it was an unsafe sidewalk because of the tree roots," Davids explained. "There's no tree roots down here and there are very few tree roots down there."

Fox 4 senior reporter Kaitlin Knapp reached out to Lee County about the concerns. They provided the following statement:

The sidewalk location along the Winkler extension was selected because tree roots are pushing the sidewalk up in areas where it is closer to the trees, creating tripping hazards and ADA compliance issues. Also, the section of the sidewalk near the trees is frequently underwater in the rainy season. Other areas of Winkler match the alignment nearer the road.
Lee County spokesperson

However, some residents feel like that's not an excuse.

"Putting people at-risk just doesn't make sense," Davids said.

House says he would feel a little more at ease with barriers or if the sidewalk was wider. But until something like that happens, they're going to readjust their walking or biking routes.

"I’m probably going to have to walk my bicycle down to Summerlin," House said. "I just hope and pray no one gets hurt using it."