February kicked off celebrations of FDOT’s 100-year anniversary for department staff in Fort Myers. On Saturday night, February 21, local FDOT employees celebrated both Thomas Edison’s birthday and the centennial anniversary by walking the 2.5 mile Edison Festival of Light Parade route alongside DOT 1 (our restored 1929 Ford model AA truck) as it motored the course.
As his winter home, Fort Myers takes special pride in honoring Thomas Edison each year with the parade. His home and laboratory on historic McGregor Boulevard (next to Harvey Firestone’s home) remain open to the public for visits and tours.
The 84-year old inventor dedicated the original two-lane Edison drawbridge in Fort Myers on his birthday, February 11, 1931. The drawbridge remained in service until the early 1990s when FDOT opened the new Edison Bridge to traffic, today’s northbound and southbound three-lane “high-span” bridges. During the construction project, the Edison drawbridge moved to the Gulf of Mexico and became an artificial reef. Engineers and crews noted at the time that the drawbridge remained in good condition but, with increased traffic, this river crossing needed more travel lanes. Opening the drawbridge to boat traffic also was contributing to motor traffic delays on roadways in north Fort Myers and downtown.
FDOT’s Southwest Area Office staff in Fort Myers hosted a reception at the SWIFT SunGuide Center on February 18 to start our 100-year celebration in style. The next morning, public information, maintenance, and traffic management center staff welcomed the third grade gifted class from a local elementary school to the SWIFT SunGuide Center. Students learned about FDOT’s history and bicycle/pedestrian safety, toured the traffic management center, saw a real dynamic message sign up-close, and took a ride in DOT 1.