A Bridge Too Far: The History of the Cape Coral Bridge
It’s currently the fastest growing city in the entire State of Florida, but at one time, the idea of so-called “progress” was a bridge too far for some local residents of Cape Coral and nearby Fort Myers. The Cape Coral Bridge was constructed in the mid 1960s to connect the two cities, but there was a lot of debate leading up to its eventual construction.
The proposal at the time was to construct an easier way to travel between Fort Myers and Cape Coral, but there were concerns leveled on both sides of the Caloosahatchee River. Not only were there concerns about the cost of building a bridge, but also concerns about its location.
Some people on the Fort Myers side worried about the negative impact on their city if the bridge crossed at the Five Points intersection, or on the nearby high school, hospital, and parks if it crossed at Colonial Boulevard. There were also concerns about sending too much traffic through Cape Coral.
Eventually, it was decided that the Cape Coral Bridge would connect at College Parkway, and it opened in 1964. This mean a direct way to travel over the river between the two cities, although it was originally just one lane in each direction.
More than three decades later, growth necessitated the need for another bridge, so the Midpoint Bridge was constructed. That bridge was also hotly contested by some who feared it would potentially bankrupt area businesses and destroy neighborhoods.
Despite the opposition, the Midpoint Bridge was eventually built as well, and cut the commute in this area from 27 minutes to just seven minutes. While many people living in Fort Myers did not feel the need to travel to Cape Coral in the past, with the bridges in place, these days it’s common to see people traveling between the two cities, even if it’s just for just eating out or shopping.
Having an easier way to get across the water has also helped spur development in recent years, especially on the Cape Coral side. In the decade in between 1980 and 1990 alone, the population of Cape Coral grew substantially larger than its nearby neighbor.