Florida Construction News staff writer
Emergency repairs to the Sanibel Causeway have been completed in 15 days, more than a week ahead of schedule. Superior Construction and Ajax Paving were hired to complete the work after Hurricane Ian washed out parts of the three-mile, three-bridge link.
“The work that has been done to restore vehicle access to Sanibel Island has been historic,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “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, repair crews, first responders, emergency vehicles, business owners and residents will be better able to expedite recovery from this storm.”
Access to Sanibel Island has been restored for residents Wednesday morning, reconnecting Sanibel Island to the mainland after access was cut off by Hurricane Ian.
With completion of the temporary emergency repairs to the Sanibel Causeway, FDOT will now work with Lee County on plans for permanent repairs on the causeway.
FDOT, in partnership with Lee County, has completed emergency repairs to several other damaged bridges in the Lee County area since the storm, including repairs to the Pine Island Bridge in less than three days in addition to Big Carlos Pass, Big Hickory, Little Carlos Pass, and New Pass Bridges.
“I am grateful for our dedicated team members who quite literally built a road in the Gulf in 15 days,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue. “While the bridges were largely undamaged by the storm, 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.”
Under normal circumstances, repairs could take months. However, FDOT, along with law enforcement partners at the Florida Highway Patrol, Lee County and Florida Department of Emergency Management made use of strategic and innovative techniques to rebuild the causeways quickly.
“Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of FDOT employees and contractors, we were able to relink Sanibel Island to the mainland,” Perdue said.
On Oct. 4, DeSantis directed FDOT to prioritize repairs to the Sanibel Causeway with an estimated completion date by the end of October. On Oct. 11, the governor announced that due to steady progress on repairs to the causeway, a one-time convoy of more than 350 vehicles for utility restoration would be able to safely cross the bridge onto Sanibel Island.
Damage from Hurricane Ian prevented vehicles from crossing the 3-mile-long bridge, delaying the delivery of needed services and supplies to the hard-hit Sanibel community. Crews worked around the clock to restore drivable access for the over 6,000 residents of Sanibel Island.