Boca Grande Causeway
|Boca Grande Causeway|
|Official name||Boca Grande Causeway|
|Locale||Charlotte County, Florida|
|Maintained by||Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority|
|Design||1 steel swing bridge & 2 concrete girder bridges|
|Total length||2.5 Miles|
|Clearance below||13 feet (north swing bridge)
25 feet (center bridge)
16 feet (south bridge)
|Opened||1958 (original bridges)
2013 (current south & center bridges)
|Toll||$6 (island-bound traffic only)|
The Boca Grande Causeway is a causeway located in Charlotte County, Florida connecting the community of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island with the mainland near Placida. The 2.5 mile causeway crosses Gasparilla Sound and consists of three bridges, and is the only vehicular access to the island.
The Boca Grande Causeway originally opened in 1958 after six years of construction, replacing a vehicle ferry service. The causeway was built parallel to the now abandoned Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway. Passenger rail service to the island was discontinued by the railroad shortly after the causeway opened. While the railroad was abandoned in 1981, the adjacent trestles remain mostly intact today and are visible from the causeway.
The Causeway was privately built, but was sold to the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, a government agency created to oversee operation of the causeway, in 1998. The northernmost bridge (connecting to the mainland) includes a 213 ft swing span over the navigation channel. The swing bridge, which is one of a few remaining swing bridges in Florida, is 13 feet tall at its highest point. The center and south bridges are fixed span bridges, and are 12 feet and 25 feet tall respectively.
The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority has been gradually replacing the original bridges since the mid 2000s. Replacements for the center and south bridges were completed in 2013. The swing bridge is the causeway's only original bridge from 1958 still in operation, although its replacement, which will be a similar swing bridge, is under construction and is set to be completed by late 2016. The new bridges are taller and also include shoulders for bicycle traffic allowing improved access for bicyclists using the popular Boca Grande Bike Path better access to the mainland and to the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail.
- Turner, Gregg M. (December 1, 1999). Railroads of Southwest Florida. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing.
- About Us (Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority)
- Bridge Info (Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority)
- O'Connor, Terry (January 22, 2013). "South Bridge opens on ‘historic Boca Grande day’". Gasparilla Gazette.
- GIBA Construction Progress Update: New Center & South Bridges August 23, 2013 #63
- Strout, Liza (March 30, 2012). "GIBA board discusses causeway bike safety plans". Boca Beacon. Retrieved 17 July 2013.