Drivers who cross the Sanibel Causeway between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and Sunday, Sept. 23, will not have to pay a toll.
A donation from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation will cover the costs during those hours as a way to encourage locals to support Captiva and Sanibel businesses, many of which are feeling economic impacts from the lingering red tide.
Lee County DOT has placed message on notice boards Thursday to inform motorists of the hours and dates when tolls will be covered by the foundation’s donation.
The donation comes as the county hosts the annual Island Hopper Songwriter Festival, which runs Sept. 21-30 with events on Captiva this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The county also has launched a #OneLee campaign, which showcases deals from local businesses to motivate people to shop, dine and play locally.
Efforts by the City of Sanibel and Lee County continue on the island’s beaches and shorelines to pick up dead fish and other marine debris that has been killed by red tide and has washed inland.
For an update on red-tide cleanup funding and efforts, visit leegov.com. The City of Sanibel has suspended parking fees at all Sanibel beaches this month.
The donation from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation toward the Causeway tolls is a separate foundation effort from one announced earlier this month called SWFL Cares. That fund is designed to collect donations to be dispersed through United Way-affiliated nonprofit organizations to help families and individuals who have seen lost wages and other economic impacts due to red tide and blue-green algae. The foundation has already dispersed nearly $30,000 in donations to United Way.
The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest also is partnering with the foundation on this effort. Music fans can make a donation during Island Hopper Fest by texting GIVESWFL to 444999. Donations will go directly to the SWFL Cares Fund.
After the Captiva weekend events, the festival moves to downtown Fort Myers on Sept. 24-27 and then wraps up on Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 28-30.
Lee County Parks & Recreation is also waiving parking fees now through Sept. 30 at Lynn Hall Memorial Park, 950 Estero Blvd., and Bowditch Point Park, 50 Estero Blvd. Both parks are located on Fort Myers Beach. The fee waiver mirrors a decision last week by the Town of Fort Myers Beach to extend the free parking at its sites until the end of the month to assist businesses impacted by red tide.