Badly damaged Sanibel Causeway to reopen to drivers on Oct. 21

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT
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The iconic Sanibel Causeway, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Ian nearly two weeks ago and left impossible to drive on, is expected to reopen to drivers next week.

The two-lane Causeway — the only way on and off picturesque Sanibel Island — was severed in three places when the monster Category 4 storm made landfall on Sept. 28.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that following weeks of emergency around-the-clock repairs, the Causeway will reopen for full-time civilian use on Oct. 21, ahead of the state's original goal of the end of the month.

"That's gonna be an amazing thing to have," DeSantis said.

In a significant milestone Tuesday, temporary repairs to the Sanibel Causeway allowed a massive convoy of 200 bucket trucks, 150 line and pickup trucks, 50 trailers, two tractor trailers, and dozens of first responders to drive onto the island.

Until now, the state had been flying in search and rescue crews and utility workers on Chinook helicopters, or ferrying them onto the island using barges.

"You can only helicopter or barge so many people and so much equipment," DeSantis said. "So we were looking at ways, how can we get more trucks on the island on Sanibel as soon as possible?"

Jared Perdue, the secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, said the next steps will be to rebuild damaged parts of the Sanibel Causeway by restoring the land, paving, laying asphalt, and putting in road striping.

"The actual bridge structures, thankfully, are in good shape and have been inspected and are safe for passage," Perdue said.

Last week, crews finished work on a temporary bridge to hard-hit Pine Island, which now allows residents there to access their homes and other resources.

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