LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County is confirming that it has found hairline cracks in some beams that support the Sanibel Causeway Bridge. The Deptartment of Transportation is asking for $160,000 to hire a company to document the cracks.
"There is no safety issue or structural issue. These are tiny cracks at the ends of some beams. We want some help to inspect every single beam, periodically, over the next year, and document what is going on," said Dave Loveland, dir. of the Lee DOT.
"We first saw the cracks in 2009, and sealed them. But some re-appeared," added Loveland.
The bridge was replaced in the mid-2000s. The newest part of the structure was dedicated in 2007, making it just over five years in age.
Still, Loveland says the stress of heavy traffic and trucks probably is causing the cracking. He also blames the state and federal governments for allowing lower-quality beams as the standard for bridges in the mid-2000s. Regulators recently have strengthened the standards for beams.
Erin Jackson, who commutes on the bridge to and from Captiva, five days a week, is concerned.
"That seems a bit unusual for such a new bridge. I mean, I want to be sure it is safe, and if there are cracks, I would think those cracks would get worse over time," Jackson told WINK News.
Christine Friedrichs, who bikes and drives on the bridge regularly, agrees.
"If they say it is safe, I guess we have to go with that. However, I am really worried about the start of tourist season for Sanibel. We don't need any issues with the bridge to interfere with season, it's very important for Sanibel this time of year," Friedrichs said.
Lee commissioners are supposed to vote on Tuesday on whether to spend the 160-thousand dollars to hire a company to inspect the beams.