Fort Myers Beach, Fla.,- Plans for a future mid-island bridge to Fort Myers Beach are now in the works. The hope is to get cars flowing on and off the island without being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Right now, there are only two ways on and off the island- over Matanzas Pass Bridge and from Bonita Beach over the Big San Carlos Bridge. During season it can take hours traveling through the two lane roads.
Town leaders hope a new bridge would alleviate some of that traffic, make response times better for medical emergencies, and natural disasters.
"Everybody knows traffic on this beach is a nightmare," said Vice Mayor, Joe Kosinski.
That's one reason he is vowing to bring another bridge to the island. Town council has been talking about it for 15 years, but never made it past the planning stages.
"We have to have some kind of alternative and this seems like a reasonable one to me, if something happens to one of our bridges its going to be a nightmare down here," said Councilman, Dan Andre.
"How many more people would come to this island, if traffic weren't a problem? The north bridge is over loaded, it's 35 years old and in another five to 10 years, they are going to look to replace it because of the pilings," Kosinkski tells WINK.
The bridge would connect at Winkler Road to mid-island. Kosinski says Winkler is the best solution in case the Matanazas Pass Bridge needs to be taken out of commission.
"If anything happens to that bridge, hurricane, accident...it's 35 miles around through Bonita, Bonita Beach Road, Hickory Boulevard, can't handle it. It's one continuous line of cars and it's dangerous for people living there."
The bridge could serve as another evacuation route during a weather emergency.. Travel time for first responders going to Health Park Medical Center would be cut by at least 10 minutes.
This bridge would also be called a "smart" bridge, because it could help reduce in the environmental impact on the estuary on the back bay.
"Every other piling would have a retention tank, it would separate out any grease, oil, gasoline and sediment, before the clean water goes into the bay," said Kosinski.
The town hopes to get county, state and federal funds for the new bridge. Kosinski estimates the cost for the bridge alone will be about $128,000,000. That's the amount of money it took to complete the new Sanibel Bridge.