FORT MYERS, FLORIDA — Today, Governor DeSantis announced the reopening of the Sanibel bridge nine days ahead of schedule. Beginning at 11:00 am, Wednesday, residents of the island may now return to assess damage at their property, start restoration efforts and rebuild their community.
“Three weeks ago, hurricane Ian destroyed the Sanibel Causeway in three different places,” DeSantis said in a press conference in Fort Myers. “Today, I’m happy to report that starting at 11:00 am, the causeway will reopen for the citizens of Lee County.”
Rescue and power crews have been arriving by boat and helicopter after the storm severely damaged the bridge, making it impassable. “We worked with FDOT to develop a plan to make the temporary repairs necessary to get people back over there,” the governor said. “The damage was even more significant than the Pine Island bridge.”
“Getting the Sanibel Causeway open so quickly, as we have just done, is due to Governor DeSantis’ unconditional support and leadership that brought all of these pieces together,” said FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue.
An ambitious undertaking, the temporary work was expected to be completed by the end of October. Instead, under the governor’s leadership, in cooperation with FDOT, one hundred crews worked around the clock, and 36,000 work hours went into completing the bridge repairs ten days early.
“We had 70 pieces of heavy equipment operating daily, with help from four barges, seven cranes, two dredges, and five boats. Plus, heavy-duty dump trucks, dive teams, and underwater survey equipment,” DeSantis explained.
“We understood that time is of the essence. When you have real, significant damage, you can’t let it toil for months without attention. This is the second big success after the restoration of the Pine Island bridge,” said DeSantis.
The governor praised the effort of FDOT, first responders, and power companies who removed debris and repaired and rebuilt infrastructure in Sanibel and Pine Island.
“The folks who were contracted out for this effort are going to be talking about this for a long time. People in other parts of the country instinctively know that if this had happened in some of their states, it would have taken six months just to get through some of the red tape.”
The governor said this “can do spirit” is a welcomed change. He said that in times like these, we must focus on unity and coming together to get things done. “I’m excited about the progress, and I understand there are a lot of days ahead, but the camaraderie and the teamwork and the unity have been fantastic,” he said.