Repairs to Florida’s Sanibel Causeway between the popular island and the mainland have been completed in just 15 days, more than a week ahead of schedule.
The causeway, the only road connecting the island’s residents to the rest of the state, had been severely damaged by Hurricane Ian. Temporary repairs were completed early Wednesday, and access to the bridge on the causeway was restored.
“Cutting through bureaucratic red tape and delivering on our promise to get Sanibel Island up and running has been a top priority. By restoring access over the causeway … residents will be better able to expedite recovery from this storm,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican.
The swift completion of the repairs required 100 crews of FDOT workers and dive teams, who collectively put in 36,000 hours of work.
They used two dredges, four barges, five boats, seven cranes, 70 pieces of heavy equipment, 8,200 tons of fill dirt and 4,000 tons of asphalt to complete the job, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue said the bridges were largely undamaged by the storm, but “portions of the causeway which connect bridge structures together were washed away by Hurricane Ian, leaving the bridges unconnected to the mainland or the island.”
With temporary emergency repairs completed, work on more permanent repairs by Lee County and FDOT can begin. Aid can now be delivered across the three-mile span, and residents have access to the mainland.
Sanibel Island restaurateur Troy Thompson told the Fort Myers News-Press that the causeway “is our lifeline, and without it we have no opportunity to get back to the island, to get back to our homes. We’ve been stranded in town for three weeks now and it means everything to get back.”
For now, the city of Sanibel will continue to regulate who can use the causeway and when, as detailed in the Sanibel re-entry plan that went into effect Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday of each week, only essential response medical and repair personnel will be permitted to use the bridge.
A curfew will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., banning any pedestrian, bicycle, or vehicle traffic with the exception of essential personnel.