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A nearly $17 million grant will help Bonita Springs upgrade storm-water issues and improve landscaping along Terry Street damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the grant Wednesday during a media briefing at Bonita Springs City Hall.
"So today we're really excited because we're able to make an impact here in Bonita Springs ... through the Department of Economic Opportunities Community Development Block Grant Program. We're going to be able to award $16.8 million to Bonita Springs," said DeSantis, backed by a group of Lee County and Bonita officials.
The grant comes through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program. The program allows local governments to develop large-scale infrastructure projects to make communities more resilient to future disasters.
The project will help improve 2.5 miles of storm water infrastructure along East Terry from Bonita Grande Drive to Old 41 Road affected by the September 2017 hurricane.
"I think it was several feet of standing water in the area," the governor said. "These improvements with this money will help reduce future flood damage. It'll ensure that first responders can access residents in need during a storm and will make sure the health of the Imperial River ... is not severely degraded."
Additionally, after the storm water portion is completed, the funds will help create a landscaped bikeway and a multi-use path along the Terry corridor to connect schools, churches and the community, DeSantis said.
The grant that produced the funding was applied for by Bonita Springs in the fall of 2021, said Matt Freeney, assistant city manager. Initial design work should get ramped up this spring with the project taking about two years.
Freeney said the work on the Terry Street corridor, east and west, has been ongoing since 2018 with the most recent tax monies helping to complete the final phase.
"This is kind of a continuation on East Terry," he said.
An initial 1.2 miles of Terry corridor improvements were completed in early 2021 and the city found the funds to start another quarter-mile portion to be finished early this year.
A description of the project includes use of native planting landscaping to help channel runoff and the use of shade trees to reduce what is described as the heat-island effect.
"The average high temperature in Bonita Springs is above 90 degrees for four to five months of the year," a media release on the project outlined. "When combined with the high humidity of Southwest Florida and the growing heat-island effect in urbanizing areas, added shade trees will play an increasingly important role in maintaining a comfortable environment for outdoor activity, while also decreasing energy costs for adjacent residents and businesses.
So far Bonita Springs has spent $5 million of general fund dollars and block grant entitlement funds along West Terry.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: $16.8M grant for Bonita Springs targets Irma damage on Terry corridor