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Traffic chaos from Caloosahatchee Bridge closure forces cancellation of Downtown Fort Myers’ Art Walk

The downtown detour has a restaurant owner lamenting the lost opportunity for off-season sales
Posted at 7:50 PM, Jun 06, 2024

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Caloosahatchee Bridge closure has thrown a wrench in Downtown Fort Myers’ Art Walk plans, causing it to cancel this month’s event because of the high amounts of traffic on 1st Street headed to the Edison Bridge detour.

Fox 4’s Austin Schargorodski headed downtown as soon as he heard about the cancellation, and he talked to a restaurant owner about what this means for his business.

While calm and clear on Thursday afternoon, the River District Alliance, the organization which coordinates Art Walk, said downtown turns into traffic chaos in the evening.

Couple walking down the side walk of a calm and clear Downtown Fort Myers.
Couple walking down the side walk of a calm and clear Downtown Fort Myers.

They say all that congestion made it unfeasible for them to close 1st Street for the event.

“I really was anxious to see Art Walk, right? And I found out it was canceled and I thought ‘Oh, that’s too bad’,” said a new downtown resident.

New downtown resident talking about her disappointment over the art walk cancellation.
New downtown resident talking about her disappointment over the art walk cancellation.

‘The Standard’ Restaurant sits right off 1st Street - the owner, Chris Blauvelt, said restaurants like this rely on events like Art Walk especially in the off-season.

“They’re very beneficial - it brings a lot of people downtown and it always helps business,” said Blauvelt.

Chris Blauvelt, 'The Standard' restaurant owner.
Chris Blauvelt, 'The Standard' restaurant owner.

So, Blauvelt said seeing Art Walk get canceled isn’t exactly “picture perfect” for him.

“I’m very disappointed. Business is down dramatically with the new parking rules. And now with the bridge being closed it’s a real hassle to get to downtown and to find parking,” Blauvelt said.

'The Standard' restaurant exterior.
'The Standard' restaurant exterior.

But, Blauvelt said it will just be another tally on the chalkboard of things they’ve overcome since opening their doors in 2015.

“Hurricane, pandemic, hurricane, bad parking, bridge closure - it’s just been one hurdle after another,” said Blauvelt.

However, the RDA said they’re working hard to figure things out with the City of Fort Myers to keep Music Walk scheduled this month.

Aerial view of 1st Street in Downtown Fort Myers.
Aerial view of 1st Street in Downtown Fort Myers.