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Would you pay a toll to go to Fort Myers Beach? It's an upcoming discussion.

Concerns about the possibility of toll roads to get into Fort Myers Beach Island
Posted at 11:06 PM, Jun 07, 2024

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Imagine driving across the Matanzas Pass bridge, trying to cut through traffic, or even going to the beach, but having to pay a toll.

In a six-and-a-half-hour town council meetingon Monday, June 3, Councilwoman Karen Woodson mentioned charging a toll on bridges that come to the island. It was not on the agenda; it was just brought up. The council suggested that at the August meeting, there should be a more in-depth conversation about the data, how it works, etc.

In Friday's interview with Fox 4 and Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt, he explains that this is the very beginning, but he has concerns about implementing toll roads.

"I like the fact that on Fort Myers Beach, first of all, it's open to everyone," says Vice Mayor Atterholt. "You could be sitting at a bar or restaurant; on your left, you could have a retired steelworker; on your right, you could have a hedge fund manager. because we have a wide socioeconomic mix on Fort Myers Neach. So that toll concept seems to be a barrier to folks and so it'll be interesting to see how the discussion unfolds. "

A local resident, Jim Goodman, who runs short-term vacation rentals on the island, was concerned about the possibility of tolls and the reason that tolls were mentioned in the council.

The councilwoman shares that it could help with the cut-through traffic, but Jim Goodman has doubts that it will work positively for the island.

"The traffic is not a tourist problem; that is a town problem," says Goodman.

He believes that it will negatively impact tourism. He explained that small businesses, like his and all of the restaurants and hotels on the island, are trying to recover from Hurricane Ian; they all need people to come to the island easily.

"Fort Myers Beach is based on tourism, you put a toll there you'll restrict the amount of people coming to the island," says Goodman.

Two bridges enter the Island: the Matanzas Pass Bridge, which is a state bridge managed by FDOT, and the Big Carols Pass Bridge, which is a Lee County bridge.

The county is not in receipt of any Town request for tolling Big Carlos Pass Bridge. The county has no plans to create a toll for the bridge.
Lee County spokesperson

The county addresses the traffic from their bride and its averages.
"Our most recent statistic is from 2023," says the Lee County Public Information Officer. "The annual average daily traffic was 6,300 vehicles."

If you would like to participate in the conversation, be sure to look at the August Town Council and Meeting and Planning Sessionagendas.