“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” — Zig Ziglar
When Hurricane Ian ripped through Southwest Florida last year, one of the most striking images the storm left behind was a partially collapsed Sanibel Causeway.
To add to the many signs of progress now being seen throughout Sanibel Island, the Florida Department of Transportation recently announced that they are expecting to complete a majority of the emergency roadway restoration work by the end of this year. Restoration of the Causeway Island Beach Parks and amenities will follow by early 2025.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s unprecedented,” said Janella Newsome, director of public information for FDOT’s District One, explaining the complexity of the work and the number of crews onsite.
They currently have 16 crews working on the project, triple the number of crews they normally have working on projects.
The restoration project has been designed to make the Causeway more resilient against future storms, including driving multiple layers of sheet pile 50 feet deep as anchors, with “marine mattresses” or buried baskets filled with rock to further protect against erosion. Thousands of armour stones (an average-sized armour stone measuring 3ft x 2ft x 2ft weighs roughly 2,000 pounds) are being brought in to help mitigate erosion, as they have been proven to be much more effective than the limestone that previously lined the causeway.
Presently, crews are busy restoring bridge approach slabs. To expedite this work, a special high early strength concrete will be utilized, allowing each phase of the reconstruction to be completed within 72 hours compared to the normal one-week construction time.
If you’re planning on being in our area over the next month or so, note that this work will impact motorists. Expect isolated flagging operations, an uneven road surface, workers and equipment close to the road, and numerous dump trucks in the area delivering project supplies. In addition, the Causeway will be limited to one lane starting at 7 p.m. every Friday until 6 a.m. Mondays through the end of the year.
While traffic will be affected for the short term, it is a small price to pay to rebuild our road to paradise!