More Public Support Needed to Make Rail-Trail a Reality in Estero and Bonita Springs

Submitted By: Terri Lewis

The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), in partnership with the City of Bonita Springs and the Village of Estero, commissioned a consultant team to conduct a study to analyze the long-term feasibility of a public multi-use trail within the Seminole Gulf Railway (SGLR). The corridor would be south of Alico Road or surrounding areas.

Funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Sun Trail Program, the study also had local matches from the City of Bonita Springs and the Village of Estero. On June 2nd, the Lee MPO Rail Trail Feasibility Study details were presented at the Estero Recreational Center.

The Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) has provided the June meeting details to residents and is highly interested in this development, and has submitted over 300 names of Estero residents to the MPO supporting the initiative. The ECCL has also collaborated with “Friends of Bonita Estero Rail Trail” (BERT) and Terri Lewis, Planet Connected LLC. The joint efforts are to reinforce to the Lee County Commissioners the desire to enhance biking connectivity and walking paths throughout Southwest Florida. However, some residents in the Vines Community do not favor using the Seminole railway trail through their property.

The  feasibility study conducted by the MPO is concluding. It will determine the best use of 14 miles of an inactive Seminole Gulf Coast railway section. The current study area runs from Alico Road to Bonita Beach Road and would transform the inactive railway into a park-like setting with a 12-foot-wide paved trail. At Alico Road, it’s just a short jog to link with the John Yarbrough Linear Trail. South of Bonita Beach Road, our trail will connect to the trail network in Collier County. Lee County residents can gain a safe place to walk/run/bike.

An all-volunteer group has been formed to generate public support: Friends of Bonita Estero Rail Trail (BERT). At the website (, you can join a growing list of residents who want this trail! Once your name and email are added to the list, Friends of BERT will inform you of ways to demonstrate support.

Did you know?

  1. Lee County is among the ten worst pedestrian and bicycling safety areas in the US. Trails are one solution for active transportation and separate pedestrians and cyclists from traffic.
  2. All over the country, trail investments are improving residents’ health, quality of life, and property values. This recent report pulls together research from neighborhoods across the United States.
  3. The Lee County MPO has worked on solutions to common safety and security issues for communities close to the Rail Trail. We will soon hear the study’s recommendations and engineering ideas for affected communities.

The Bonita Estero Rail Trail will connect communities, businesses, and more trails to the north and the south. A network of connected trails is good for our health, is great for small businesses, and creates value for our area. Research shows that 1 point of Walk Score is worth $3,250 in home value1. Additionally, cars are the second largest household expense.

Become a Friend of Bonita Estero Rail Trail (BERT). Join Friends of BERT.

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