■ BY KATHY BANSON-VERRICO
The swing bridge and two other bridges sustained no damage during the storm.
We re-installed the protective traffic gate arms, performed a successful test opening, and the swing bridge opened to boat traffic on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 a.m.
No opening requests have been made as of press time on Thursday. The toll booths did have some standing water inside after the storm, but we dried them out and all the equipment is functioning property. The GIBA maintenance crew spent the past few days cleaning up the causeway and replanting a few of the downed trees. We still have more work to do but everything is moving smoothly.
The southern roadway between Gulf Shores Drive and Kappy’s is continuing to fill with water. Vehicles are warned of the standing water and should proceed with caution. With the surrounding flooding and water table the roadway will take a while to dry out.
Vehicles have the option to detour around by way of Gulf Shores Drive. The original hurricane protocol included the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office on site checking hang tags, but unfortunately, they have not been here to assist us.
The GIBA staff stepped up and is assisting the Boca Grande Fire Department and Lee County Sheriff by checking tags, and even issuing temporary tags to people with the proper credentials. Tolls will continue to be suspended until the hang tag program is complete.
We are doing our best to help service personnel get back on the island. Over the past few days the GIBA staff has been subjected to some unnecessary ugliness, but we will continue to enforce the program for the safety of all resident and businesses.
Each morning I meet with Chief Blosser to assess the progress of the cleanup. As soon as officials confirm that the entire island is safe the roadway will be open to everyone, and toll collection will resume.
The GIBA website, giba.us, will post hang tag program end and beginning of toll collection.