FORT MYERS, Fla. Thursday marks 20 years since the Midpoint Memorial Bridge first opened.
The idea of building a bridge that cuts down travelers’ commute from Fort Myers to Cape Coral wasn’t initially welcomed by some residents in Fort Myers.
While some Cape Coral residents were begging for a better way in and out of the city, others believed the bridge would threaten the future of their neighborhoods.
John Albion, a former Lee County commissioner in 1992, explained the goal of the bridge was to bring two growing cities closer together.
“To see it now 20 years later means that vision and what we believe was important to Lee County, I think has been realized,” Albion said.
Cape Coral was just gaining traction to become the largest city in our area during the early 1990s.
“It was going to be a question, because the demand was growing,” Albion said.
The bridge has offered drivers more options and less traffic.
“You can’t even imagine today without it,” Albion said.
After about 20 years of discussing the idea and gaining enough support to make it a reality, the bridge opened in October 1997.
“It was an absolute one of the biggest knock-down, drag-out fights and that’s why it took 20 years,” Albion said.”It’s one of the biggest achievements I would argue for the 1990s for Lee County.”
The bridge cost $175 million to build, county officials said. Money from tolls is still being used to pay for it and other bridges in the county.
County officials expect to have all the bridges paid off by 2035.