LEE COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time, on Tuesday, Lee County commissioners got a look at the $184 million proposals to upgrade the Cape Coral bridge.
In the contract, lanes are wider, and there's better bike access for what supporters say is a long-overdue replacement.
Every day, more than 20,000 drivers go across the bridge.
"I understand the frustration, I understand their anxiety," said Kevin Ruane, a Lee County commissioner. "Understand that we want to improve this."
There are improvements that are much needed and laid out in a 42-page PowerPoint. The westbound lanes of the bridge went up 58 years ago. Now, it's eight years past its design life span and is considered to be in fair condition.
"Anything less than fair we would’ve reacted a lot quicker, but fair is still a good category," Ruane said.
When we asked Ruane why it's taking so long to replace, he said "I just think it’s purely the rate we’re growing and obviously come up with the design. You just don’t come up with 'how do you do it?' Do you do a new bridge? Do you do a new lane? How do you do it?"
Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass says the bridge is inspected every year and is safe to drive on. He adds that the project will do more than expand the lanes and the bridge.
"The pedestrian and the bicycle safety and all the walkways in addition to the bridge will be great," Pendergrass said. "A place for activities, for people to walk on at night for exercise."
Surplus tolls, bonds, and potentially federal dollars will pay for it, Ruane says.
Because of the rapid growth of Cape Coral, the project has been fast-tracked. If commissioners give it the green light, it'll break ground in December 2026, two years faster than previously scheduled.
"It's something the community continues to ask for," Pendergrass said.
You can view the full presentation here.