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TRAFFIC TROUBLE: Caloosahatchee Bridge closure creates back-ups while FDOT manages the congestion

People in North Fort Myers voice concerns while FDOT works to ease congestion
Posted at 7:19 PM, Jun 03, 2024

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS, Fla. — Were you late to work Monday? It was the first morning commute since the Caloosahatchee Bridge closure, and people say they’re they’re already dealing with more traffic.

Fox 4’s Austin Schargorodski reached out to FDOT to see what it learned in day one of the closure, and what it’s going to do to try to manage that traffic going forward.

Steady traffic coming over the Edison Bridge as a detour to the Caloosahatchee Bridge closure.
Steady traffic coming over the Edison Bridge as a detour to the Caloosahatchee Bridge closure.

On Monday morning, cars were stealing coming over the Edison bridge on US-41 as a detour. For thirty years, the Athenian Restaurant in North Fort Myers has seen everything on that road through their big, street facing windows.

Faye Tsovolos is a hostess there and said Monday was a bit different.

The Athenian Restaurant's sign in North Fort Myers with traffic going by.
The Athenian Restaurant's sign in North Fort Myers with traffic going by.

“You see a lot of backup towards the light to get on Pondella - that leftmost lane” said Tsovolos.

Tsovolos said a lot of her customers are talking about that traffic when they come in.

Nancy Palmer and Michael Klobnock, North Fort Myers residents.
Nancy Palmer and Michael Klobnock, North Fort Myers residents.

“We waited in the median to make a turn for five minutes,” said Nancy Palmer and Michael Klobnock, a North Fort Myers couple as they arrived at the Athenian Restaurant.

So, Tsovolos explained that the extra traffic has her concerned about safety, saying, “We’ve already seen a lot of accidents over the years. I know a few of our customers have gotten into fender benders trying to get in here as well.”

Faye Tsovolos, Hostess at the Athenian Restaurant in North Fort Myers.
Faye Tsovolos, Hostess at the Athenian Restaurant in North Fort Myers.

Despite the expected congestion in areas like Pondella Road, FDOT’s communications director, Janella Newsome, said things are off to a smooth start.

“Whenever there’s a shift or traffic pattern change, on average it usually takes the public about two weeks to get it down. So, for this to be the first day I think it went rather smoothly,” said Newsome.

Janella Newsome, FDOT's Communications Director.
Janella Newsome, FDOT's Communications Director.

Newsome said her teams worked with Lee County all morning to keep traffic moving.

“Lee County is monitoring all of the various traffic signals. I just got a report today that Lee County has made at least 80 adjustments this morning - just today - to have a better control of the flow of traffic,” Newsome explained.

Cars making a left turn on to Pondella Road from US-41.
Cars making a left turn on to Pondella Road from US-41.

Newsome said traffic signal timing will continue to be adjusted in the areas that need it. In the days ahead, Nancy Palmer said she hopes everyone continues to drive safely.

“It’s gonna’ take a bit more patience. I just want people to be careful and know that they’re gonna’ get there, but get there safe.”