Bonita Beach Causeway
The Bonita Beach Causeway is a series of four low-level bridges located in Southwest Florida connecting Bonita Springs with Fort Myers Beach. It carries Estero Boulevard (County Road 865) and is four miles long from end to end. The Bonita Beach Causeway traverses three natural barrier islands bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay. This differs from the Sanibel Causeway (also located in Southwest Florida), which traverses man-made islands in the San Carlos Bay. Each bridge on the Bonita Beach Causeway is named after the body of water it crosses. Estero Boulevard (which crosses the causeway) begins just south of the Bonita Beach Causeway in Bonita Springs. It splits off from Hickory Boulevard (County Road 865), heads north and crosses Big Hickory Pass Bridge, which lands on Big Hickory Island. After a short distance, it then crosses the New Pass Bridge, and lands on Long Key, and enters the Lovers Key / Carl E. Johnson State Park. After crossing the Little Carlos Pass Bridge onto Black Key, Estero Boulevard turns west, leaves the Lovers Key / Carl E. Johnson State Park, and crosses the Big Carlos Pass Bridge, a small single-leaf drawbridge, onto Estero Island, and the town of Fort Myers Beach. Even though the Bonita Beach Causeway travels through the Lovers Key / Carl E. Johnson State Park, it does not traverse Lover's Key itself. Lover's Key is actually just west of the causeway, and runs beside Black Key and Long Key. Before its construction, the only way to access Estero Island and Fort Myers Beach by car was via the Matanzas Pass Bridge (which was still a small swing bridge at this time). The swing bridge's machinery was highly unreliable, which concerned islanders who feared the bridge would break down in the event of an emergency, such as a hurricane evacuation. The islanders felt having a second exit for the island for safety reasons would be wise. Construction on the causeway began in 1963, and the causeway opened on July 4, 1965. . The Matanzas Pass Swing Bridge was replaced by the current 65-foot-tall (20 m) bridge in 1979.