by SC Reporter Shannen Hayes
The powerful category four Hurricane Ian washed away sections of the Sanibel Causeway, when it made landfall Sept. 28 and caused island-wide destruction. Temporary repairs to the bridge were completed 15 days after work began and it’s expected to be fully repaired by October 2023.
Works continues to repair the Sanibel Causeway after sections of it were washed away by Hurricane Ian. Work is expected to be completed by October 2023. SC photos by Shannen Hayes
Katie Sherrard, resident construction engineer on the project, said the causeway “will look much like it did before Hurricane Ian.” The differences, she said, will be what is unseen — more resiliency. “Our goal is to be out of here with the causeway back in a more resilient fashion in one year,” she said.
Florida Department of Transportation crews will continue working around the clock, except major holidays, to finish the project which has been divided into two phases. Sherrard said the first half of phase one has been completed – restoring vehicle access to the island – and the second half of the phase, which includes better stabilization, should be completed within the next month. Work is concurrently underway on the second phase, permanent repairs.
The causeway was not the only bridge damaged. The small bridge on Periwinkle Way, connecting it to the east end of the island, was broken by the storm. Sherrard said contractors have been secured and materials ordered. “We will start work next week (Nov. 7) and is expected to take two weeks.”
City Manager Dana Souza said it would have cost the state around $3 million to replace the causeway, but repairs are $800,000 to $900,000. “It’s another monumental effort by the state,” he said, “from a work and cost perspective.”