CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The City of Cape Coral could be getting more sidewalks with the hope of protecting kids heading to and from school. Many areas where they sit are either full of grass or gravel.
In a City Council consent agenda item, council members could accept money from the Florida Department of Transportation to work on two areas. One is SW 29th Avenue between Ceitus Parkway and SW 3rd Lane. The other is SW Tenth Street between Chiquita and Skyline boulevards.
"It's just ridiculous not to have sidewalks," said Kevin Theissen, a Cape Coral father of five. "There’s no reason to not have sidewalks going all the way up and down Chiquita."
It's a sight people from out of town notice, too.
"In Lake Dalton, they put in sidewalks on the off beaten road just for pedestrians so no one gets hurt," said Terrence Johnson, visiting from Wisconsin. "You think the same thing would be done here."
The money to pay for the projects will come from FDOT grants, which is a little more than $500,000.
"We’re getting real close now to finishing sidewalks within one mile of schools," said Tom Hayden, a Cape Coral councilman.
Adding in more sidewalks has been a priority for him since he took office, though one incident was a breaking point. In 2019, Layla Aikens was killed. She was waiting for the bus before a driver blew a stop sign, killing her.
"That really kind of ignited me to try and get these projects moving forward," Hayden said.
Prior, Hayden says a traffic study was done between 2016-2018. It revealed that only 8% of the City's 1,200 lane miles has a sidewalk. Since then, Hayden says that's only climbed to around 12-13%, which he doesn't believe is fast enough.
Hayden says he sees kids sitting on the curb or grass all the time as they wait for the bus.
Parents say they not only want sidewalks, but curbs.
"If there’s no curb, someone can just drift right up and take them out," Theissen said. "But if you hit a curb, you remember that feeling for sure."
If City Council accepts the grant on Wednesday, the project will be done between 2026-2027. Hayden wants to push for sidewalks within two miles of schools and then he wants to shift his focus to main roads without sidewalks.
"What is the price of one child's life," Johnson said.