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Lee Board of County Commissioners discussed renaming the Sanibel Causeway to the Ron DeSantis Sanibel Causeway at its Feb. 6 meeting.  

The item was brought forward by Commissioner Brian Hamman for discussion with the rest of the board, not seeking any final decisions. 

“I was impressed by what Governor DeSantis did in the wake of Hurricane Ian,” Hamman said. “It just truly seems like it’s an opportunity for us to thank the governor of our state, who gave a truly historic effort.” 

The Sanibel Causeway connects Sanibel Island to the county’s mainland and was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian, cutting off access in and off the island following the storm. Despite the damage sustained, the causeway reopened just three weeks after the Category 5 hurricane made landfall. 

“I think we all remember the early conversations where we were really worried that it might be years before we were driving on that bridge again,” Hamman said. 

Hamman said there is no political intent behind renaming the causeway after DeSantis. 

“I didn’t want it to be during the presidential campaign or anything like that,” he said. “But now that that seems to be over, I wanted to float that idea of how do we recognize him?” 

All commissioners were open to the conversation of recognizing the governor in some way, beginning discussions on other alternatives to be considered. 

Commissioner Kevin Ruane, who previously served as mayor of Sanibel for more than a decade, said while he’s accustomed to renaming things in honor of people after their died, he still believes that as a governing board, the commissioners need to recognize what the governor did for the county.  

“What’s the most appropriate thing to do? I’m not necessarily certain, but I’m more than open to having a subsequent conversation,” he said. 

The discussion of different ways the governor could be recognized for his part in Hurricane Ian recovery in Lee County extended to the possibility of naming one of the Sanibel Causeway Islands after him, currently identified as Island A and Island B. 

The Sanibel Causeway is still under construction for restoration after damage, with Lee Department of Transportation Deputy Director Rob Price saying construction should be done between November or December of this year.  

“We’re talking about roadway improvements, everything in the right of way,” Price said. “The islands we’re working through with facilities and getting a plan together.” 

Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass also brought up DeSantis’ efforts with the Matlacha Bridge reopening after the storm, possibly considering that bridge as a way of recognizing the governor’s efforts. “The Matlacha Bridge goes Lee County to Lee County, there’s no other municipality attached to it,” he said. “That bridge was done in four days.” 

Ultimately, Hamman suggested the timing may be better when DeSantis finishes his term in 2027. “You want it to be a thank you when you do it, not something that could be controversial,” he said. “The timing is maybe later or something different.” 

Commissioners agreed to address the topic later in the year as construction wraps up on the causeway and Matlacha Bridge. 

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