The causeway linking Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland has reopened to residents after being closed for nearly 16 hours as a result of a fire.
According to the Port Director, the causeway was declared unsafe after a fire broke out on the island this past Wednesday around 5 p.m.
He says the causeway was closed and was reopened Friday morning. The causeway is a 30-miles causeway that allows for easy travel to the island as an alternative to driving across the Gulf of Mexico.
“All the lanes are open, and there has been no traffic at all,” said Port Manager Mike Poulet.
“All the traffic has been coming east on 10th Street. That’s the north, and there’s been no traffic at all.
“From there, it’s a one-way, southbound causeway. There were reports of problems, and I understand they’re going to use a secondary bridge, and we’re going to have to monitor it very closely. There are a lot of roadways that are out there.”
According to a report released by the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire was caused by a spark in the fuel tank of a vessel which was later docked on the island. A causeway is used by a ship to dock in a location that cannot be used for normal vehicle traffic.
The report went on to state that it will be difficult to extinguish the fire on the causeway, and that once the fire is out at this time, there is little chance of it spreading to the mainland.
The Sanibel Fire Station responded to the call about a three-hour time span ago.
Coast Guard officials say they are investigating the cause of the fire and the extent of any damage to the structure.
The causeway was supposed to reopen at about 8 a.m. today but has since expanded to include the Gulf of Mexico.
The ferry service for residents to the island of Sanibel is now operated by a private company, and is open until 10 p.m.
According to the Port’s website, there is no public parking on the island, and residents use private ferry boats.
Officials with the Florida Division of State Parks will be out Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the reopening, to check the condition of the causeway and the condition of the bridge.