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Big Carlos bridge approved $285 million project is set to include bike and pedestrian lanes

Construction of a big bridge in Lee County, a new San Carlos Bridge over Big Carlos Pass, is expected to begin by late spring, Lee County officials said.

Lee County commissioners voted Tuesday to award a contract to Superior Construction Co. to build a span over Big Carlos Pass, linking Lovers Key and Estero Boulevard over Big Carlos Pass, replacing a bridge that had reached the end of its useful life along Fort Myers Beach. 

Construction will depend on availability of needed materials but is expected to happen during the spring. Florida Department of Transportation engineers expect construction will take two to three years. 

‘The project will replace the existing drawbridge structure,’ said Rob Price, deputy director of Transportation. Price added that a boon to fishing will be constructed, through ‘the creation of another barrier reef in the Gulf of Mexico using the demolition from the existing bridge.’ 

The new Big Carlos bridge will replace a moveable drawbridge built nearly 60 years ago. The new span arches 60 feet over the water. 

Reflecting the focus among residents and tourists on waterfront activities, the bridge will include a fishing pier, a 6-foot wide sidewalk on one side of the structure, with a 10-foot wide shared use path. Designated bike lanes will be included.

The bridge would cost $90.3 million with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration paying $25- million of the cost. The city’s share is expected to be taken from the annual budget during the construction phase.

The new bridge should have a life span of 75 years, county officials said.