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Transportation and infrastructure are at the forefront of Cape Coral’s recovery efforts two months after Hurricane Ian. 

Traffic signals and signage are the two focal points for transportation recovery. All signals in the city are maintained by Lee County, making it the county’s responsibility to assess repairs in times of emergency. 

The first and second phases of response were completed, restoring one traffic light in every direction at every lighted intersection and a damage assessment of each signal. 

The final step is to assess the cost associated with each damaged traffic signal. If the cost of repair exceeds $5,000, it will be filed in a report that will be submitted to the state and ultimately to the Federal Highway Administration for reimbursement review. If the cost is less than $5,000, the county will begin to make necessary repairs. 

For signs, the city has over 60,000, with an estimated 40,000 needing repair or replacement. 

“It’s monumental,” Public Works Director Michael Ilczyszyn said. “I don’t want to say that we’re going to take the same amount of time, but in [Hurricane] Charlie, it took us almost 14 months to get to the very last one.”

The repairs for signs fall into three different priorities: regulatory signs, warning signs and informational signs. Cape Coral is still working on first-priority signs, which include yield, speed and stop signs, with all four-way stops in the city completed.

Stop sign repairs are 40% complete, with full completion expected within the next six weeks. 

The city is set to begin its second pass of debris removal and cleaning up canals. Twelve crews are working on canals, with three more to be added. 

So far, the city has collected 1.6 million cubic yards of debris, with debris pickup being over 50% complete. 

Cape Coral is expected to complete the second pass by the end of the month before assessing whether a third pass is needed. 

For the city contractors to pick up debris, residents must place their debris in the public right of way, as contractors cannot pick it up on private property. For maximum results, residents must separate their debris and avoid bagging it in plastic trash bags, as it will not be picked up. 

“I know everyone wants to get back to normal and we keep hearing it’s already been eight weeks since the hurricane,” City Manager Rob Hernandez said. “We just have to remind everybody that this was a borderline Category 5 hurricane. Patience is to be in order and this is going to take a while before we get back to pre-hurricane conditions.” 

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