Causeway Island Project Expected to Start in July

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Jesse Lavendar

Erosion and safety drive Lee County’s three-year project to improve the two Sanibel causeway islands, Jesse Lavender, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation, told members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce at its April 14 virtual business meeting.

“This is your corridor from the mainland, and we’re going to do it right,” he said. “These two islands will get re-created in a fashion that gets us set for the future and addresses safety issues – on-and-off access points and erosion. We want to make a really nice corridor for people who live on the islands and for visitors — to keep that nice ‘I’m on the islands, this is why I’m here’ feeling.”

The newest measure Lavender announced at the meeting is the addition of two T-groins on Island A, closest to the mainland, to prevent erosion and the need to renourish the beach every year or so. They will also help address the problem with waves washing up over the base of the island during high tides and storm events.

Other new measures of the $8.5 million project will include limiting driveways onto both islands, designating parking spots, restricting RV parking to Island A, building restrooms on Island A, renourishing the beach on Island B, creating new jet ski ordinances, and planting native landscaping on both islands.

SC photo by Chuck Larsen

“We want to keep the nature of these islands as close to what you have experienced all these years, without putting a seawall up,” said Lavender. He emphasized the high priority of maintaining the islands’ recreational opportunities for nonmotorized sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing.

Events such the Easter Sunrise Service and annual Sanibel Sea School fundraiser will be grandfathered in and their venues enhanced, but no other such events will be permitted.

Construction will take place starting in July through June 2024. During that time, one side of the islands will always remain open for recreation, he said. It will not impact the roadway at all; no changes are being made to the elevation or other aspects of the drive.

SC photo by Chuck Larsen

The number of designated parking spots on the islands will likely cut down available parking space. The county has not yet determined the total number of spaces nor whether eventually it will charge for parking.

New chamber board of directors chair Mark Blust ,in his introduction, called Lavender “a dedicated public servant…. His leadership has done wonders for our county.”

“You have certainly spurred a lot of conversation,” chamber president and chief executive officer John Lai told Lavender. “We’re excited about the project and grateful for the opportunity to open the discussion. We’re anxious to see what it looks like.”

Lai, in his opening comments, also reported on the chamber’s legislative priorities activities for water quality locally and in Tallahassee, where he attended sessions with Captains for Clean Water March 19 through April 1. “They were great meetings, and we look forward to those efforts coming to fruition.”

The next chamber virtual business meeting will take place at noon on Wednesday, May 12, with a water-quality panel including South Florida Water Management District governing board member Chauncey Goss and SCCF environmental policy director James Evans. Plans are for the June meeting to run in an in-person format. For more details, contact Lai at 239-472-2348 or John@sanibel-captiva.org.

Comments (5)

  1. I think it would be terrible to charge for parking. Families already have to pay the toll to get to the beaches.

  2. Linda DeFrancisco

    Please do NOT charge additional parking. People already paid $6 to get onto the causeway and many cannot afford the high $ for parking at Sanibel beaches. Please allow everyone to continue driving their cars where they are picnicking and swimming. This is what keeps Sanibel old fashioned and unlike any other place.Please keep as many parking spaces as possible.

  3. I’ve been here all my life for 57 years and I never dreamed they would try to change the causeway and limit the parking it’s always been a freedom to be able to park almost anywhere you want on the causeway and that freedom and now is going to be gone!!
    very terrible and sad day for me as a native of Fort Myers. I’ve been driving to the Causeway for 57 years since I was a kid with my mom and dad!!
    Please do not change it just pave the roads on those islands and make parking places (like 200 or more!! )but don’t limit how many people can park there! I don’t understand why they do not understand that hundreds of people use the A and B islands and to limit it to us to 50 parking places is just ridiculous because if you look at any holiday you like Fourth of July and just a normal Saturday and Sundays there’s hundreds and hundreds of people that want to get to those islands,, and I’m just one of them!! And for us that Windsurfer in kite board it’s even more limiting because we can’t even get to the water that we love ❤️ if you limit those parking places just to 50 to 100 Will not work at all. So please do not change it!😔😔😔

  4. Just drove across the causeway today there must be 1000 cars parked just at the A island!! There’s no way that they’re put just like 50 to 100 places everybody will be Fightin to death just for those few parking places!

  5. Michelle Jurczyk

    Please do not change parking on the Causeway. It’s very unique and it would be so sad to see it changed in any way, especially charging a fee for it. Sanibel is my paradise, please keep it that way.

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