Fort Myers Beach’s southbound bridges will reopen Tuesday

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – The bridges leading to the south end of Fort Myers Beach will reopen to essential workers Tuesday and residents the day after.

The city of Fort Myers Beach announced a plan to reopen the bridges Monday afternoon. Four bridges are included in the reopening:

  • Big Carlos Pass
  • Big Hickory
  • Little Carlos Pass
  • New Pass

They will follow the same restrictions as the Matanzas Pass Bridge at the north end of the island. Only essential workers, including water, power, sewer, road crews and debris removal crews will be allowed on Fort Myers Beach on Monday and Tuesday. Residents will be allowed to stay on the island from 9am to 5pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

With access from the south end of the island, Mayor Ray Murphy hopes residents will spend less time sitting in traffic and more time working in their homes.

“It’s a game changer, it’s a real game changer for the whole island, and especially for the people on the south end of the island,” Mayor Murphy said. “It’s a valve and we’ve opened the valve and traffic can flow again.”

Residents along the southern end of the island have seen the heaviest traffic since the island reopened.

“It took forever and ever and ever,” said Betty Simpson. “It would take us as much as four hours to climb.”

Dorin Oxender is in the same boat. He said it took him more than three and a half hours to get to his home in mid-south Fort Myers Beach.

“Here is a frustrated islander,” he said.

Engineers and work crews have reinforced the support systems on the bridges they rely on. Their work was completed in just under three weeks since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida. Now all the bridges on the southern end of the island have the government seal of approval for traffic.

“This should help,” said Mayor Ray Murphy. “If people know they can from the south, that will definitely help.”

It is also a victory for the workers, said the mayor. Now they will be able to tow the remnants of the storm from both ends of the island.

“They’re going to have another landfill to go through,” Murphy told NBC2.

Doubling the routes means doubling the work. For residents, that’s twice as many smiles.

“Having two more hours of my life on my commute will be great,” Oxender said.

“It will take us a third of the time to get to the beach and back,” Simpson added.

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