13 Jul 2021
For over a year now, the tolls at the Sanibel Causeway have been unmanned. Originally, cash collections were suspended, and booths were closed to protect employees and the public as the COVID-19 pandemic began across the state and the world. Proceeds were collected through what was called "toll by plate," in which license plate readers would be used to send bills for the $6.00 toll (no fines or penalties) to the registered vehicle's owner. The same policy was in effect for the other toll bridges in Lee County (the Cape Coral Bridge and the Midpoint Memorial Bridge), though the fare on these is only $2.00.
There would be no effect on those who have a transponder recognized by LeeWay (which includes Florida's Sun Pass, Georgia's Peach Pass, and North Carolina's Quick Pass), as it would be received, and the toll deducted from your account per usual.
Last month, the County voted to permanently extend the "all-electronic" system for LeeWay's tolls, partly because the flow of traffic improved with the change rather than having frequent stops with cashiers *making* change for motorists. While the $6.00 toll for Sanibel remains the same, starting in October there will be an additional $3.00 billed for vehicles crossing without a transponder.
We here at Sanibel Holiday have done our best to inform our arrivals of the situation, especially for those visiting for the first time. We have recommended to guests flying in and renting a vehicle that they check with their car rental agency and advise that they will be making at least one trip over the Sanibel Causeway. Many car rental companies have transponders installed in their vehicles, and agents at the airport in Fort Myers are likely aware, but some visitors fly into other airports such as Punta Gorda, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, or Miami, so we again recommend making sure your agent knows about the situation so that you are not wrongly penalized for a toll violation.
For those who are driving their own auto and don't have a transponder, we recommend starting a Sun Pass account. You can either go online to sunpass.com or purchase a transponder at any of 4500 retailers in Florida, including Publix, Walgreens, and CVS.
And remember, Lee County's tolls only charge one-way (to Sanibel or Cape Coral). There is no charge for returning to Fort Myers. And since Sanibel and Captiva have pretty much everything you'll need (supermarkets, restaurants, shops, convenience stores, etc.), there is little reason to go back to the mainland until you're on your way home!