This week, we published updates to 101 Travel Bits: The Florida Keys and the Overseas Highway (including post-Hurricane Irma information). In honor of that, we here at 101 Travel Bits thought it would be a great time for some fun facts about the highway which connects the mainland of the United States to Key West.
1. The Original Overseas Highway Included Actual Ocean Travel
The Overseas Highway opened to road travel on January 25, 1928. However, the original road did not stretch in an unbroken highway between the mainland and Key West. Instead, the road consisted of two segments (the first from the mainland to Lower Matecumbe Key and the second from No Name Key to Key West). In between, vehicles had to take a 41 mile ferry ride between the islands. Thus, the first version of the Overseas Highway was overseas in more than one sense of the word!
2. The Official Designation for the Overseas Highway is U.S. Route 1 or U.S. 1
U.S. 1 is the longest north-south road in the United States; its southernmost portion consists of the portion of the road nicknamed the Overseas Highway. The highway's beginning (or end, depending on your perspective) is in Fort Kent, Maine on the U.S.-Canada Border. Its end is at 490 Whitehead Street in Key West. In between, it travels 2,369 miles through fourteen states and the District of Columbia.
3. Over 15% of the Overseas Highway Consists of Bridges
The Overseas Highway is 113 miles long. The highway passes over 18.8 miles of bridges, meaning you spent over 15% of the trip on bridges. This is not a route for those with gephyrophobia - a fear of bridges!
4. The Longest Bridge on the Overseas Highway Is the Seven Mile Bridge
Perhaps the most famous stretch of the Overseas Highway is the Seven Mile Bridge. The name is a bit of a misnomer in two ways. First, because the actual bridge is just under seven miles long, and second, because there are two seven mile bridges. Old Seven Mile Bridge runs parallel to the current Seven Mile Bridge. Old Seven Mile Bridge once housed a railroad and was converted to vehicular use in the 1930s. Today, it is mostly closed to all traffic. However, it is being restored to become part of the Overseas Heritage Trail, which will allow bicycles and pedestrians to cross this stretch of the Overseas Highway without having to share the road with motorized vehicles on New Seven Mile Bridge.