Overseas Highway

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Overseas Highway
Moser Channel top.jpg
Overseas Highway traversing the Seven Mile Bridge
Carries US 1
Crosses Gulf of Mexico, Florida Strait
Locale Florida Keys
Maintained by FDOT
Designer Florida East Coast Railway; Overseas Highway & Toll Bridge Commission
Total length 127.5 miles (205.2 km)[citation needed]
Longest span 6.79 miles (10.93 km)
Vertical clearance 65 feet (20 m) (at Moser Channel)
Constructed by Henry Flagler
Opened March 29, 1938 (1938-03-29)
Preceded by Overseas Railroad
Heritage status NRHP (1979)[1]
Overseas Highway and Railway Bridges
Overseas Highway Channel 5 Bridge.jpg
A new bridge (left) and the old bridge (right) at Channel Five between Craig Key and Long Key.
Location Florida Keys, Florida
Built 1905 (1905)
Architect Florida East Coast Railway; Overseas Highway & Toll Bridge Comm.
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 79000684[1]
Added to NRHP August 13, 1979

The Overseas Highway is a 127.5-mile (205.2 km)[citation needed] highway carrying U.S. Route 1 (US 1) through the Florida Keys. Large parts of it were built on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad, the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Completed in 1912, the Overseas Railroad was heavily damaged and partially destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The Florida East Coast Railway was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections, so the roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the state of Florida for $640,000.

Since the 1950's the Overseas Highway has been refurbished into a main coastal highway between Miami and Key West, offering travelers a exotic roadway through a tropical savanna environment and access to the largest area of coral reefs on the USA mainland. Many exotic animals such as the American Crocodile and Key Deer inhabit the tropical islands of the Florida Keys [2]

History[edit]

Most of the original construction of the Overseas Highway used many of the bridges of the former railroad, including truss bridges, where the roadway was built on top of the trusses. A "contract for building 18 bridges on the new Overseas Highway to Key West" was awarded to Cleary Brothers Construction Co. of West Palm Beach in late April 1942; it called for completion of all bridge construction work on sections of the highway within the overseas road and bridge toll district, on the abandoned foundations of the old Florida East Coast railway line.[3] Most of these older bridges built for railroads have been replaced by more modern bridges that are able to accommodate more than two lanes of traffic. The highway included the Seven Mile Bridge, the Bahia Honda Bridge and the Long Key Bridge (although these three original bridges are no longer open to vehicular traffic, except for part of Seven Mile Bridge, they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are currently used as fishing piers).

While the Overseas Highway today runs along the former Overseas Railway right of way, portions of it did exist in a different alignment while the railroad was still operational. Known as State Road 4A, the original roadway was completed in 1928 mostly existed in two sections. One section ran from the mainland via the Card Sound Bridge to Lower Matecumbe Key, while the other ran from No Name Key to Key West. Ferry service connected the 41 mile gap between the two sections, as well as Marathon. In the Upper Keys from Key Largo to Lower Matecumbe Key; State Road 4A followed the Overseas Railway. In the Lower Keys State Road 4A followed a much different path than the Overseas Railway starting with the Lower Matecumbe Ferry landing on eastern end of No Name Key. State Road 4A then followed what is now Watson Road on Big Pine Key which crossed to Little Torch Key where it rejoined the Overseas Railway from Middle Torch Key, Ramrod Key, Summerland Key and Cudjoe before splitting off to the southern shoreline of Sugarloaf Key. On Sugarloaf Key State Road 4A passed by the many of the notable resorts of the day such as the Pirate's Cove before crossing to Geiger Key. On Geiger Key State Road 4A followed what is now Geiger Road to the current Boca Chica Road and Boca Chica Key. On Boca Chica Key State Road 4A followed the shoreline south of Naval Air Station Key West's airstrip to Boca Chica Beach where it crossed to Stock Island. On Stock Island State Road 4A followed Maloney Avenue and McDonald Avenue where it rejoined the Overseas Railway heading into Key West. Most of the State Road 4A bridges in the Lower Keys were of wooden construction and had been in use by the early 1920s.

Plans were made to connect the two portions of the original road in the early 1930s. A group of World War I veterans were employed for the construction, which had already begun at Lower Matecumbe Key when the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 struck the area, destroying the railroad. After the hurricane, construction was halted and plans were then made to use the railroad bridges instead, which had been acquired from the railroad. Just west of Lower Matecumbe Key at Mile Marker 73 on the current highway, eight concrete bridge piers that were to support the original bridge alignment remain to this day and are visible from the current highway. The full highway from the mainland to Key West was opened on March 29, 1938.

During World War II, the United States Navy, who had substantial operations in the Keys, sought improvements to the Overseas Highway to improve their access to the mainland. As a result, the original portions of the highway that coexisted with the railroad were rerouted onto the former railroad right of way in 1945, as it was a more direct route. This included the construction of the current alignment of the highway from Florida City to Key Largo via Jewfish Creek (known as the 18-Mile Stretch). The original Card Sound Bridge was closed after the realignment, and was subsequently destroyed by a fire. The Card Sound route was restored in 1969 with the opening of the current bridge.[4]

After the realignment in 1945 to its current entry onto Key Largo along the old railroad right-of-way, The Overseas Highway received the unsigned designation State Road 5, the same as the entirety of US 1 south of Jacksonville at that time.

The beginning of U.S. 1 in March 1951; U.S. 1 has since been extended to the Monroe County Courthouse in downtown Key West

Portions of the road were tolled until April 15, 1954; toll booths were located on Big Pine Key and Lower Matecumbe Key. Pigeon Key, roughly the midway point of the Seven Mile Bridge, served as the headquarters for the "Overseas Road and Toll District."[5] The toll for automobiles was $1, plus 25 cents per passenger.[6]

One of animated television's Wacky Races was The Overseas Hi-Way Race, which first aired on December 28, 1968, on CBS, covering the entire actual route from Key Largo to Key West. While Long Key was correctly portrayed, most of the other in-between keys were given fictional names, and Sombrero Key was actually five miles south of the highway in open water, according to the Florida Keys–East map.

The entire roadway of the Overseas Highway was substantially rebuilt in the 1980s. In recent years, Pigeon Key was used by the University of Miami as an oceanography laboratory, but current efforts to restore the buildings on the island have resulted in the establishment of a railroad museum there. The newer Seven Mile Bridge does not have direct access to Pigeon Key; people going there must walk on 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of the original Seven Mile Bridge from its northern end on Knight's Key, or take a shuttle bus, to reach the island.

Mile markers[edit]

Locations along the Overseas Highway from Key West to Key Largo are commonly given as mile markers. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) maintains mile marker signs every mile along the highway. Numbering starts in Key West, and increases towards the east and northeast up the path of the highway over the keys. Businesses along the highway began listing their locations by mile markers, adding decimal parts to more precisely indicate locations between mile marker signs. Outside of Key West and the city of Marathon, street addresses along the highway are based on the mile markers, using a four- to six-digit number (with no decimal point); the numbering pattern is as follows:[7]

  • The first three (or four) digits denote the approximate mile marker
  • The last two digits denote a particular address; an even digit denotes an address on the Atlantic Ocean side while an odd digit denotes an address on the Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico side

As an example, the Tropical Research Laboratory of Mote Marine Laboratory has a physical address of 24244 Overseas Highway. The first three digits indicate that it is near mile marker 24.2 (it is located on Summerland Key) while the last two digits indicate that it is located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the highway.

Trail[edit]

In 2001, the Monroe County Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Greenways and Trails, and FDOT entered into a Memorandum of understanding to create the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT).[8] The trail will be a world-class, multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facility that will traverse the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West. Upon completion, the FKOHT will include an integrated system of educational kiosks, roadside picnic areas, scenic overlooks, fishing piers, water access points, and bicycle and jogging paths. The development of the trail will provide a mechanism for the preservation and use of the historic Flagler Railroad Bridges, 23 of which still exist and are mostly intact. Several alternatives exist for trail alignment, including cutting down the 22-foot-wide (6.7 m), 1940s-era roadway to its original 12-foot (3.7 m) spandrel width, or using the 22-foot-wide (6.7 m) roadway as is, particularly in multi-use areas. In all cases, original bridgework will be repaired or rebuilt, and the breaks created during the 1980s and 1990s fishing pier conversion will be reconnected. Where the original roadway no longer exists, the trail will be temporarily cantilevered on the side of the current US 1 highway bridge, until new 12-foot-wide (3.7 m) trail bridge sections can be built. The new sections will be built to match the historical character of the original bridges.

Major intersections[edit]

The entire route is in Monroe County.

Location Mile[9] km Destinations Notes
Key West 0.000 0.000 Fleming Street
0.406 0.653 Truman Avenue / Whitehead Street 90 degree turn
1.337 2.152 Eisenhower Drive / Jose Marti Drive south end of four lanes
1.643 2.644 Palm Avenue / 1st Street no left turn either way on US 1
3.927 6.320 SR A1A south – Airport, Beaches
4.100–
4.169
6.598–
6.709
Bridge over Cow Key Channel
trail on sidewalk to north
Stock Island 4.586 7.380 MacDonald Drive old SR 4A
  5.291 8.515 Key Haven Boulevard to Raccoon Key
  5.997–
6.498
9.651–
10.458
Bridge over Boca Chica Channel
Boca Chica Key 8.08 13.00 Naval Air Station Key West interchange
Rockland Key 8.790 14.146 Toppino Industrial Drive
East Rockland Key 9.183 14.779 Rockland Drive - NAS Truck Entrance former US 1 south
  9.508–
9.754
15.302–
15.698
Bridge over Rockland Channel
trail on old bridge to south
Big Coppitt Key 10.691 17.205 Boca Chica Road (CR 941 south)
  11.181 17.994 Shark Key
  11.309–
11.701
18.200–
18.831
Bridge over Shark Channel
trail on old bridge to south
Saddle Bunch Keys 12.547–
12.712
20.192–
20.458
Bridge over Saddle Bunch No. 5
trail on old bridge to south
13.018–
13.185
20.950–
21.219
Bridge over Saddle Bunch No. 4
trail on old bridge to south
14.118–
14.259
22.721–
22.948
Bridge over Saddle Bunch No. 3
trail on old bridge to south
14.328 23.059 Blue Water Drive
14.496–
14.616
23.329–
23.522
Bridge over Saddle Bunch No. 2
trail on old bridge to south
14.968 24.089 East Circle Drive
15.261–
15.504
24.560–
24.951
Bridge over Lower Sugarloaf Channel
trail on old bridge to south
  16.370–
16.455
26.345–
26.482
Bridge over Harris Channel
Lower Sugarloaf Key 16.955 27.286 Sugarloaf Boulevard (CR 939 south)
  17.451–
17.472
28.085–
28.118
Bridge over Harris Gap Channel
  17.658–
17.741
28.418–
28.551
Bridge over North Harris Channel
Park Key 18 29 no major intersections
  18.600–
18.755
29.934–
30.183
Bridge over Park Channel
trail on old bridge to south
Sugarloaf Key 19.349 31.139 Crane Boulevard
19.970 32.139 State Road 939B (CR 939 south) old SR 4A
  20.150–
20.433
32.428–
32.884
Bridge over Bow Channel
trail on old bridge to south
Cudjoe Key 21.409 34.454 Blimp Road
  23.471–
23.682
37.773–
38.112
Bridge over Kemp's Channel
partial old bridge to south
Summerland Key 25.197 40.551 East Shore Drive (CR 942 south)
  25.413–
26.278
40.898–
42.290
Bridge over Nile's Channel
partial old bridge to south
Ramrod Key 27.264 43.877 Indies Road
  27.504–
27.629
44.263–
44.465
Bridge over Torch Ramrod Channel
  27.836 44.798 Middle Torch Road - Big Torch Key
  27.895–
28.052
44.893–
45.145
Bridge over Torch Key Channel
Little Torch Key 28.216 45.409 State Road 4A
  28.625–
28.801
46.067–
46.351
Bridge over South Pine Channel
partial old bridge to south
  29.411–
29.552
47.332–
47.559
Bridge over North Pine Channel
Big Pine Key 30.527 49.128 Key Deer Boulevard (CR 940 north) - National Key Deer Visitor Center
  33.130–
33.791
53.318–
54.381
Bridge over Spanish Harbor Channel
Scout Key 34.5 55.5 no major intersections
  35.272–
36.544
56.765–
58.812
Bahia Honda Bridge over Bahia Honda Channel
partial old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge to south
Bahia Honda Key 36.794 59.214 Bahia Honda State Park
  38.361–
38.571
61.736–
62.074
Bridge over Ohio Bahia Honda Channel
trail on old bridge to north
Ohio Key 38.75 62.36 no major intersections
  38.896–
39.176
62.597–
63.048
Bridge over Missouri Ohio Channel
trail on old bridge to north
Missouri Key 39.25 63.17 no major intersections
  39.448–
39.620
63.485–
63.762
Bridge over Little Duck Missouri Channel
trail on old bridge to north
Little Duck Key 39.823 64.089 Veterans Memorial Park
  40.011–
46.804
64.391–
75.324
Seven Mile Bridge over Moser Channel
partial old bridge via Pigeon Key to north
Marathon 47.186 75.939 Knights Key
Marathon (Vaca Key) 48.059 77.343 CR 931 south (20th Street)
49.965 80.411 Sombrero Beach Road (CR 931 south) - Sombrero Beach
Marathon 53.001–
53.081
85.297–
85.426
Bridge over Vaca Cut
trail on sidewalk to north
Marathon (Fat Deer Key) 53.610 86.277 Sadowski Causeway - Key Colony Beach
Marathon (Long Point Key) 56.191 90.431 Curry Hammock State Park
Marathon (Crawl Key) 56.459 90.862 Banana Boulevard
Marathon (Grassy Key) 57.594 92.689 Kyle Avenue
  60.498–
60.786
97.362–
97.826
Bridge over Tom's Harbor No. 4
trail on old bridge to south
Duck Key 61.051 98.252 Hawks Cay
  61.418–
61.680
98.843–
99.264
Bridge over Tom's Harbor Cut
trail on old bridge to south
Conch Key 62.846 101.141 North Conch Avenue
  63.140–
65.446
101.614–
105.325
Bridge over Long Key Channel
trail on old bridge to south
Long Key 67.404 108.476 Long Key State Park
  70.735–
71.670
113.837–
115.342
Bridge over Channel No. 5
partial old bridge to north
Craig Key 72 116 no major intersections
Islamorada 72.642–
73.000
116.906–
117.482
Bridge over Channel No. 2
trail on old bridge to north
Islamorada (Lower Matecumbe Key) 74.403 119.740 Gulfview Drive
Islamorada 77.531–
77.703
124.774–
125.051
Bridge over Lignumvitae Channel
77.966–
78.353
125.474–
126.097
Bridge over Indian Key Channel
79.177–
79.318
127.423–
127.650
Bridge over Tea Table Channel
79.708–
79.761
128.278–
128.363
Bridge over Tea Table Relief
Islamorada (Upper Matecumbe Key) 80.425 129.431 Frontage Road old SR 4A
83.509 134.395 Frontage Road old SR 4A
Islamorada 83.879–
84.001
134.990–
135.187
Bridge over Whale Harbor Channel
Islamorada (Windley Key) 84.344 135.739 CR 905 north old SR 4A
Islamorada 85.578–
85.739
137.724–
137.984
Snake Creek Bridge over Snake Creek
Islamorada (Plantation Key) 90.513 145.667 Plantation Avenue / Sunshine Boulevard / Bessie Road
  90.895–
90.955
146.281–
146.378
Bridge over Tavernier Creek Waterway
Tavernier 91.485 147.231 Ocean Boulevard
Key Largo 103.430–
103.454
166.454–
166.493
Bridge over Marvin D. Adams Waterway
106.312 171.093 CR 905 north (Card Sound Road) – Miami
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007. 
  2. ^ Marzyck, Marion E. "History and Background: The Overseas Highway". Web World Wonders. Florida State University. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ Crestview, Florida, "To Build Highway", Okaloosa News-Journal, Friday 1 May 1942, Volume 28, Number 15, page 5.
  4. ^ History of Overseas Highway
  5. ^ Pigeon Key—Headquarters for the Overseas Road and Toll District, c. 1952 (Photograph). Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ Wilkinson, Jerry. "History of the Overseas Highway". Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Jerry. "Mile Markers in the Florida Keys". Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys. Retrieved August 9, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail". Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  9. ^ FDOT straight line diagrams, accessed April 2014

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing