FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The familiar skyline of Big Carlos Pass is undergoing a significant transformation as the construction of the new Big Carlos Pass Bridge continues its progress.
The current drawbridge has been connecting Bonita Springs with Fort Myers Beach since 1965 It's now due for a modern upgrade that promises a life span of 75 years.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony on June 15th, heavy machinery and construction crews have been hard at work, preparing for what will soon be a fixed-span bridge, standing nearly 60 feet tall.
However, not everyone is in full agreement, RJ Choinski, a resident of Fort Myers Beach, expressed a view shared by some locals, advocating for a smaller bridge.
Choinski stated, "From my perspective, a lot of the locals here would rather see the smaller bridge remain, or at least rebuild it as a smaller version because I think aesthetically it just looks a lot better."
During the planning process community engagement was encouraged. John Regina, a custom house builder, attended a meeting hosted by the bridge engineers and proposed a design idea with a European influence,
"Bridges in Europe sometimes, are wise enough to lower the pedestrian walkway, so you get the view of the water, but you don't get the noise beating in your ear all the time," Regina stated.
Despite the different opinions on design, the new bridge will be an upgrade. Cyclists and pedestrians will benefit from dedicated bicycle lanes, and 6-foot, and 10-foot-wide paths, ensuring safer and more accessible passage.
Additionally, a new pier will be constructed alongside the Lover's Key side of the bridge, extending approximately 300 feet over the water.
Operated by Lee County Parks & Recreation, this pier will provide space for fishing and parking.
The project is anticipated to finish in three years, aiming for completion by the summer of 2027.
During this period, the existing bridge will remain open and operational. Once the new bridge is fully operational, plans are in place to repurpose the old bridge into an artificial reef, contributing to the local ecosystem.