Murphy Gets No Support To Stop Bridge

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On Monday Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy lobbied his town council colleagues for support to stop construction of a new 60-foot bridge Lee County plans to build to replace the old San Carlos Pass Bridge. They wanted no part of his plan.

Other than trying to save a fishing pier, Murphy has not provided any substantive reason the county should not build a 60-foot bridge to replace the current 24-foot drawbridge, which was built in 1965. Murphy says the Big Carlos Pass Bridge is “one of the fishingest bridges in the state of Florida if not the United States of America.

Despite what Murphy has said publicly, there has been very little public opposition to the new bridge as of late which will include wider sidewalks and safer bike lanes. Perhaps that’s because for the most part, this is a done deal. The only other option Lee County shared with the public last week was rehabbing the current bridge at a cost $40 million with the bridge still needing to be replaced in 20 years. A 60-foot bridge would last 75 years and the proposed cost is $90 million, including maintenance.

Murphy was trying to get the council to sign a letter in opposition to the bridge which he then planned to take to the City of Bonita Springs. Murphy said he received a letter from the Bonita Spring Mayor who told him that council was 100% opposed to the 60-foot bridge.

The Mayor, responding to this Facebook post from Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, called Hamman’s comments “kind of silly.”

Councilman Bill Veach was not in favor of getting into an adversarial relationship with Lee County over the new bridge with very little chance of success. Veach also spoke with a beach resident who said he’s very happy with the new bridge design because Lee County bent over backwards to accommodate the people on the beach side of the bridge and minimize the impact it has on residents on the Fort Myers Beach side.

Murphy and a few others in the community have also been trying to create some doubt about the cost of the bigger bridge (see next story), compared to the cost of a smaller bridge. Veach shot that down as well. Veach said he showed the cost estimates to an engineer friend of his and they made sense.

Last week at a public hearing on the bridge, 35 residents attended, 8 people spoke (including Murphy) and not all 8 of the speakers were opposed.

Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros said she’s not in favor of a joint effort with the City of Bonita Springs to thwart the bridge.

In the end it was decided there would be no letter from the council in opposition to the bridge.

Murphy concluded by saying the fight is not over until they start hauling the stuff in. “Keep up your opposition if you’re so inclined and you’ll always have me to support you for that.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. […] #9) The Fishingest Bridge in all of Florida Back in February Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy made the phrase the “Big Carlos Pass Bridge is one of the fishingest bridges in the state of Florida if not the United States of America” famous. He uttered those words in opposition to a new 60-foot bridge Lee County plans to build to replace the old Big Carlos Pass Bridge. He provided no actual data to back up his claim. […]

  2. Great point Barbara Hill! Having a view as you cross the bridge is more important to me than fishing off the bridge.

  3. The decision to build the fixed bridge has already been decided, however, the final design of the guardrails has not, I just learned. When going over the Sanibel Causeway, the metal guardrails provide an outstanding, nearly unobstructed view of Pine Island Sound and the islands. Currently, the Big Carlos Bridge design calls for solid concrete walls to protect bikers and pedestrians. My recommendation is that we urge the county to include a partial concrete wall, with a metal rail at the top. This will offer a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico and Big Carlos Pass, thereby meeting both current safety codes for pedestrians and bikers while also offering those of us in cars, an unbeatable view. Think of how much better our Matanzas Pass bridge experience would be if we could enjoy that same unobstructed view?

  4. I understand how Ray feels about the bridge….but…it’s old. I truly hate to see it go. However, that pass is famous for the fishing. The largest recorded Snook was caught right there. We should maybe take the money saved in a dune walkover lawsuit and put it towards a fishing pier by the new bridge…and keep some of our history alive.

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