Days after Hurricane Ian cut off Lee County’s barrier islands from the mainland, vehicles are once again driving across the connecting bridges.
A temporary bridge to Pine Island was opened last week.
On Tuesday, a convoy of more than 350 trucks carrying workers and supplies crossed the newly repaired Sanibel Causeway for the first time.
Governor Ron DeSantis has said civilians and residents will have access to the causeway by October 21st.
“These are safe bridges,” said Dr. Atorod Azizinamini, the Director of the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability at Florida International University and one of the foremost experts on bridge engineering.
Azizinamini hasn’t personally inspected the bridges, but has faith in the inspectors at FDOT and U.S. DOT.
The storm broke the Sanibel Causeway in three places.
It also washed away some of the road leading up to the bridge onto Pine Island.
While Azizinamini praises the work of inspectors, he does say the entire industry needs to work on adding more resiliency components to bridges in order to survive hurricanes.
“Let’s say a hurricane comes, first you need to prevent the damage. And second, if there is damage we need to bring the bridge back to full functionality in a very short time,” Azizinamini said.
“Right now, we don’t inspect it thinking what will happen if we have a huge hurricane that comes in. We don’t inspect it for that.”