Bridge destroyed by Hurricane Ian reopens early after repairs

An important bridge that was damaged by Hurricane Ian has reopened early, officials announced on Wednesday.

The Sanibel Causeway, a 3-mile long span of concrete girder bridges connecting Sanibel Island to mainland Florida, was heavily damaged when the category 4 hurricane directly hit Lee County in September.

‘Hurricane Ian destroyed the Sanibel Causeway in three different places, but today I’m happy to report that starting at 11am, the causeway will be reopened for the citizens of Lee County,’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stated while standing in front of the restored bridge.

The causeway is the main method of transit from mainland Lee County to Sanibel Island, a major tourist destination and home to about 6,300 people. While the bridge was taken out, first responders could only access the island by helicopter or boat.

When the bridge was damaged on September 29, estimates initially predicted it would take months to repair the substantial damage. But work crews were able to successfully set up temporary repairs to allow vehicle access to the island to resume.

‘These repairs, while temporary, are really going to help get the residents of this island back on track,’ the governor said.

DeSantis said there were over 100 repair crews working a total of 36,000 work hours to make the necessary repairs.

Contractors and volunteers used 70 pieces of heavy equipment operating daily, 8,200 loads of fill dirt, 2400 loads of rock, and 4,000 tons of asphalt to make the repairs. Barges, dive teams and underwater survey equipment were used to access isolated parts of the San Carlos Bay.

The Florida Department of Transportation said they will continue repairs in the upcoming months to permanently restore the bridge.

Hurricane Ian killed over 100 people in Florida. The majority of the deaths occurred in Lee County, where the storm made landfall on September 28.

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