Florida is continuing to recover in the aftermath of the powerful storm, Hurricane Ian, as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday announced another major step. There will now be access to Pine Island as workers quickly installed a temporary road over Matlacha Pass, allowing people to finally access the island by car.
Access has been limited to boat and air, as Hurricane Ian pummeled the city’s west coast last week, destroying bridges connecting the islands to the mainland.
DeSantis said during a Wednesday press conference that his administration worked with the Department of Transportation to come to a solution, allowing people to access the islands again while bridge repairs occur. They were able to accomplish that with this temporary road.
“I’m happy to say that we’re able to be here today and emergency vehicles are going to start going across, probably in about an hour,” he said.
“They’re doing the final run-through and final inspections. And then later today, the public will be able to access this bridge and be able to get back,” he said, noting that major grocer Publix is “staged and ready to go.”
Update: temporary road over Matlacha Pass should be finished within three hours! That will allow people on and off Matlacha and Pine Island. #ian #recovery #floridastrong #gulfshorestrong @winknews pic.twitter.com/ATXbBbZ9nm
— Belinda Post (@Belinda_Post) October 5, 2022
— Chris Nelson 🇺🇸 🏝 (@ReOpenChris) October 5, 2022
“And they’re going to be bringing their trucks across and reopening their store,” he said, adding that the temporary bridge project is ahead of schedule.
“We wanted it to be done by the end of this week” and “actually got it done in the middle of this week,” the governor said, adding that it would have been hard to believe last week that this was accomplished so quickly.
“Just knowing how government is, it takes them a week just to even have a meeting usually about stuff like that. But our view is, you know, we need to respond very quickly,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said he was able to visit Sanibel for the first time, noting that there is “more debris I think on Sanibel than any place I’ve seen thus far in terms of what we’ve been able to do.”
Notably, Hurricane Ian destroyed portions of the Sanibel Causeway, connecting Sanibel Island and Captiva to the Sunshine State’s mainland.
— Fox 4 News (@Fox4Now) September 29, 2022
DeSantis has ordered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to begin repairs immediately, and it is expected to be accessible by the month’s end.
.@GovRonDeSantis directs FDOT to immediately undertake repairs to Sanibel Causeway – including making temporary access available.
The Causeway is anticipated to be accessible by the end of October.
— Bryan Griffin (@BryanDGriffin) October 5, 2022
“FDOT has already made tremendous progress on the temporary bridge to Pine Island,” the governor said in a statement.
“Now I’ve asked them to work with Lee County to immediately begin work to provide temporary access and begin repairs to the Sanibel Causeway,” he continued.
“Access to our barrier islands is a priority for our first responders and emergency services who have been working day and night to bring relief to all Floridians affected by Hurricane Ian,” the governor added.
The news comes as millions of Floridians have seen power restored in the immediate aftermath of Ian.
WATCH the full press conference below: