The number of vehicles crossing the Sanibel Causeway has been down each month since March due to the pandemic. The exception would be September when 218,338 vehicles were counted at the toll booth, which is an increase of 5 percent compared to September 2019.
That’s according to a report released in December by Lee County, which owns and operates the bridge. The report also showed traffic coming to the island began picking back up in August with a total of 233,491 vehicles, a difference of 0.26 percent compared to August 2019.
October was the most recent count in the county’s report. Vehicles traveling across the bridge that month totaled 246,035 which is 2.81 percent less than the same month last year. The busiest October was recorded in 2002 when 262,318 vehicles crossed the bridge.
The first COVID-19 case for Sanibel was reported mid-March and the city declared a state of local emergency, which remains in effect. Traffic that month decreased by 25 percent, from 355,759 vehicles in 2019 to 265,546 vehicles. The biggest drop in traffic occurred in April with a 61 percent decrease from last year.
May had a 21.82 percent decrease in traffic, while June recorded a 1.88 percent drop and the July count was down by 3.78 percent compared to 2019. The count from January to October totaled 2,454,615 vehicles, a difference of 332,451 or 13.49 percent compared to 2019.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended cash toll payments statewide in March to protect workers and drivers from the virus. Instead, drivers who usually pay by cash at the toll booth receive a billing statement in the mail for the same cash rate and have the option to pay online. There is no impact to those with transponders or E-Passes.