After Hurricane Ian touched down in Florida last week, the amount of destruction it caused to the Sunshine State has been devastating.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) released a statement saying the Sanibel Causeway is expected to be repaired and accessible by the end of October.
According to the release, FDOT awarded a contract on Tuesday to begin immediate repairs to the structure that took a great deal of damage during Hurricane Ian. Out of al the damage, the most severe was a 50-60 foot section of the “A” span of the bridge collapsed as well with major erosion to one of the causeway islands.
“FDOT has already made tremendous progress on the temporary bridge to Pine Island,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Now, I’ve asked them to work with Lee County to immediately begin work to provide temporary access and begin repairs to the Sanibel Causeway. Access to our barrier islands is a priority for our first responders and emergency services who have been working day and night to bring relief to all Floridians affected by Hurricane Ian.”
Similar damage was sustained on Pine Island Road in Matlacha where Hurricane Ian washed the road away.
The state has already begun work and anticipates Pine Island to be accessible by vehicles as soon as Friday.
“FDOT is proud to play a part in restoring our communities across the state. The Pine Island bridge is well on its way for completion. I’m confident we can provide the same level of service for the Sanibel Island community,” said Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “Much like Pine Island, the Sanibel Causeway was affected when the land that the road was built on was washed away. A bridge stability analysis will be performed, and repairs needed range from repairing bridge approaches to restoring the roadway across most of the causeway. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Lee County and helping them take another step towards recovery.”
On Tuesday the City of Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith said the two projects are very different in scope.
“The Pine Island bridge and the Sanibel Causeway are worlds apart,” Mayor Smith said. “That’s generally an easier fix. Our fix is not easy. But the dedication at the state level has shown me the commitment that they want to get that bridge up and running.”
The emergency repairs anticipated to be completed by the end of October are temporary to give access to the island. Then, the state will begin long-term repairs.
“This means that repairs being done now will tie into work that will be needed for permanent repairs,” FDOT said in a statement.
FDOT also said they completed all state-owned bridge inspections. They’re now assisting with locally owned bridge inspections as well.