FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Contact:   Paul Wingard, Department of Transportation
                (941) 694-3334 or 479-8545




FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 17, 2002) – At Lee County’s request, the U.S. Coast Guard is changing the opening times for the Sanibel Causeway Drawbridge from every ¼-hour to every ½-hour to help smooth traffic flow while not detrimentally affecting boater traffic. 

The change took effect Monday (July 15). 

The county’s Transportation Department performed a three-month test of the new times last year.  The results of that test were forwarded to the U.S. Coast Guard, which subsequently gave its approval to make the change permanently. 

The openings will be changed from once every ¼-hour, on demand, to once every ½-hour, on demand.  On demand means the drawbridge opens only if there are boats waiting.  If no boats are waiting, it isn’t opened. 

The change is only for weekdays.  On weekends and federal holidays, the bridge will continue to be opened every ¼-hour, on demand. 

In addition, from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., the bridge will be raised on demand, regardless of intervals.  From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (peak motorist traffic), the ½-hour rule (on demand) will be in place.  That means if during those times the bridge hasn’t been raised for several hours and a boater approaches at 12:40 p.m., the boater would have to wait until 1 p.m. to pass through.  If the boater were to approach the span at 12:40 a.m., the span would be raised immediately. 

The reason for the change is motorists often have asked whether the drawbridge could be opened only every half-hour to quicken and smooth traffic flow on and off Sanibel Island.  The test showed that the longer intervals between openings did not detrimentally affect boat traffic or require the span to be opened for a significantly longer amount of time.