Sanibel Causeway tolls resume Jan. 1 after a Hurricane Ian-prompted pause, Lee County officials announced Thursday.
Tolls or no tolls, it doesn't mean just anyone can get to the island – yet.
Though the bridge re-opened in October to island residents with passes and workers with permission, business owners want to make holiday shopping and restaurant-going possible for off-islanders. But it's not clear if that will happen in time.
Lee County controls the tolls; the city controls access, but Sanibel officials haven't made any decisions yet, Deputy City Manager Steven Chaipel said in an email.
"We are having ongoing discussion regarding the elimination of the checkpoint and pass access for the island," Chaipel wrote, "but no determinations have been made at this time."
As for when that might be, "We are hoping within the next week or so, but nothing definite yet," he wrote. "We know that we need to give people as much notice as possible."
The 3-mile causeway, which includes islands and over-water spans, was battered and broken by the storm in three places. The first of the multi-phase repair process was complete Oct. 19, after temporary fixes allowed vehicle traffic, Florida Department of Transportation Engineer Kati Sherrard said at an update earlier this month.
Next phase: more shoring up and stabilization, which will be followed by permanent repairs to make the causeway more resilient. The whole project should be done by next October, Sherrard said.
For passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles, the charge to get over the bridge, which is the sole roadway access to both Sanibel and Captiva islands, is $6 for vehicles with transponders or $9 without one.
Toll collection resumed Nov. 1 on the Cape Coral Bridge and the Midpoint Bridge, the county’s two other toll bridges.
LeeWay, the county’s toll program, will honor its discount programs for Sanibel residents who had them prior to the storm through Jan. 31, county spokeswoman Betsy Clayton said in a statement.
Sanibel-based LeeWay customers are asked to renew their programs for 2023 now. Typically, the annual renewal process takes place in October. Sanibel residents with power and internet access can renew online at leegov.com/tolls. A phone line for renewal also is available at 239-533-9297 beginning Thursday, Dec. 1. LeeWay also will email Sanibel program participants this month, Clayton said.
Contractors doing work on Sanibel should visit the website to obtain a free LeeWay transponder and to deposit funds into an account to avoid paying the $3 administrative fee that is applied to those without transponders. Transponders from other entities, such as SunPass and E-ZPass, also work. Visit leegov.com/tolls for a complete list. All three county toll bridges are all-electronic; no cash is accepted.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Sanibel Causeway tolls re-start Jan. 1 for residents, workers