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DeSantis directs expedited repairs for Pine Island access by Oct. 8; Civic association stresses need

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Tom James
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Blue compact car dangling over a ditch near a crumbled road in Matlacha Pass in Southwest Florida

The Florida Department on Transportation is shooting for an Oct. 8 deadline to restore the road access to Pine Island destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon Governor Ron DeSantis directed FDOT to assist Lee County to expedite emergency repairs to the road and bridges that provide motorists access to Pine Island.

The repair promise comes as some Pine Island residents complained they have been ignored.

An email earlier Sunday from the non-profit Matlacha Civic Association said residents were not happy with the local government response to protect and restore the island.

"Property owners are being intimidated not to return to their properties," said Michael Hannon, listed on the email as president of the association. He said offers of the use of barges and construction services from local businesses had been ignored.

"We have wetland restoration experts, insurance experts, food distribution experts, and construction companies ready to help. We all have boats, and the majority of our homes are standing and need immediate clean out and water damage remediation," he said.

DeSantis took note of the current Pine Island situation at the press conference.

“The 9,000 residents of Pine Island – some still on the island and those not – are without power, water, and other critical resources needed to recover from Hurricane Ian," said DeSantis. "FDOT has the workforce and resources needed to quickly restore this road and bridge and allow these families access to their homes so they can start rebuilding their lives.”

FDOT were to start mobilizing equipment, materials, and crews Sunday and aim for a Saturday, October 8, deadline to restore access to the island. The repairs are needed for first responders and residents to access the island, as well as other recovery efforts such as power restoration and debris removal.

A Lee County official said a temporary road will reconnect access from the mainland to Pine Island. Once the temporary road is complete, FDOT crews will continue clearing the path through the island to provide safe drivable access for first responders, disaster recovery experts and residents

In other areas, FDOT’s Cut and Toss crews have cleared over 88% of Florida’s roads making transportation corridors passable in most of the state.

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Tom James
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A temporary road for the Pine Island area will need to be put in place to reconnect access from the mainland to Pine Island. Once the temporary road is complete, FDOT crews will continue clearing the path through the island to provide safe drivable access for first responders, disaster recovery experts, and residents.

Once immediate recovery efforts have subsided, permanent repairs will subsequently be constructed. While the permanent replacement is expected to take some time to complete, the temporary road and bridges will be a safe short-term option for immediate access.

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