In 2017, the Lee County Department of Transportation began a Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study to evaluate alternatives for bridge improvements or replacement. An alternatives public meeting was held on January 18, 2018. On December 18, 2018, the Lee Board of County Commissioners approved the fixed span bridge on the Gulf side of the existing bridge as the preferred build alternative to move forward in the PD&E Study. On January 28, 2021, a public hearing was held. The Lee County Department of Transportation has concluded the Big Carlos Pass Bridge PD&E Study and is moving forward with design.
On October 21, 2021, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 14, 2016, and executed by FHWA and FDOT, granted Location and Design Concept Acceptance for the Big Carlos Pass Bridge project on Estero Boulevard from Estrellita Drive to the Lovers Key State Park entrance. The proposed improvement includes replacement of the existing moveable bridge over Big Carlos Pass with a fixed bridge that will provide a vertical navigation clearance of 60 feet. The new bridge will be constructed on the Gulf side of the existing bridge. The roadway configuration will include one travel lane in each direction, bicycle lanes, a six-foot-wide sidewalk along the north side of Estero Boulevard, and a 10-foot-wide shared use path along the south side of Estero Boulevard. A parking area with access to the Lovers Key State Park will be included on the southeast side of the bridge.
The design and permitting phase for the bridge is underway and is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months. Construction is anticipated to take two to three years.