Overseas Highway – The Highway that Goes to Sea
Overseas Highway is the name given to a portion of 205 kilometers of highway U.S. Route 1, which traverses U.S.A from north to south, crossing 3813 km from Fort Kent, Maine, on the border with Canada, to Key West, Florida, the southernmost point in the continental U.S. The last section of the road, which goes from island to island, connecting the peninsula of Florida to Key West, crosses 42 bridges and in its great majority, lies above the ocean.
In 1935 the hurricane that occurred during the Labor Day, the most powerful one that hit America, has destroyed much of the track and caused major damage to portions that remained standing. Unable to restore the destroyed sections, the company that administered the iron road sold the bridges and the embankment to Florida in exchange for $640,000.
Authorities decided not to rebuild the old road and opted to build a road to extend the U.S. Route 1. This would follow the route of the former railway and, where possible, to use the bridges that remained standing with new structures, which allowed multiple traffic lanes, but the old bridges weren’t demolished and can still be seen running parallel to the modern ones.
Following the pressure of the U.S. Navy, which held numerous operations in the area, the road was completed and opened quickly. Until 1954, drivers who wanted to cross the road had to pay a fee of one dollar for each car and 25 cents for each passenger. The entire highway was rehabilitated in the early ‘80s, when 38 of the bridges were replaced. Among them was also the Seven Mile Bridge, one of the longest in the world at the time of construction. The new structure is slightly shorter than the original one and appears in numerous film productions, including License to Kill, Fast and Furious or Mission Impossible III.
The highway, which crosses the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida, and can be traversed in less than four hours, was included among the most beautiful roads in the United States, All-American Roads, in 2009.