The Santiva Chronicle Staff Report
The total number of vehicles counted at the Sanibel Causeway toll booth from January to November 2020 reached 2,697,142, a decrease of 11.68 percent compared to the same time in 2019 when just over 3 million vehicles were counted. That’s according to a report released in January by Lee County, which owns and operates the bridge.
Traffic in January and February 2020 was up by 4 and 3.45 percent respectively before Sanibel began feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March when the first case was reported for the island. The city declared a state of emergency that same month, which remains in effect nearly 10 months later.
The pandemic’s impact on traffic was immediate with a 25 percent decrease in vehicles crossing the bridge in March. Traffic fell sharply in April with 191,849 fewer vehicles or a 61 percent decrease compared to 2019. The decline continued in May, June and July recording a collective difference of 76,715 vehicles compared to the same months in 2019.
The report showed traffic picked up slightly in August with only a difference of 608 vehicles compared to August 2019. September traffic was up by 5 percent over 2019, the only month since March in which traffic increased.
November was the most recent month in the county’s report. Vehicles crossing the bridge that month totaled 242,527, a 9 percent decrease compared to the same month in 2019.