Road Trip to Florida

I visited the areas of Melbourne and Belle Glade over the Memorial Day weekend in 1991. This article has 29 photos that I took on the trip, with a wide assortment of mostly highway and bridge photos from Savannah, Georgia, to South Florida, including the areas of Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, Melbourne, Sebastian, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Everglades, and Lake Okeechobee, with a variety of commentary and external links interspersed.

Click the thumbnail photo for a larger photo (they range in size from 51 KB to 184 KB, and most are less than 110 KB).

Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.


Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.


Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.

Looking eastbound toward Melbourne, with the eastern relief bridges in the foreground, and the high-level bridges over the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in the distance. The bridges over the ICW have 65 feet of vertical navigational clearance.

Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.

Traveling westbound toward Melbourne, approaching the high-level bridges.


Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.

Traveling westbound toward Melbourne, having passed the highest point of the high-level bridge.


Melbourne Causeway, US-192, crosses the Indian River and connects Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island in the town of Indialantic.

Traveling eastbound toward Indialantic, having passed the highest point of the high-level bridge.


The first bridge between Melbourne and Indialantic was completed in 1921. A modern causeway and 2-lane bridge with a swingspan was completed in 1947, and the swingspan had about 20 feet of vertical navigational clearance when the swingspan was closed. Most of the length of the causeway is built on earthen fill in the river. The westbound 2-lane high-level bridge was opened in 1978, with 2-lane eastbound traffic relegated to the 1947-built bridge. The eastbound 2-lane high-level bridge was opened in 1985, and the 1947-built bridge was demolished. During the construction of the high-level bridges, the earthen causeways were widened, and new relief bridges were built near each shoreline. The high-level bridges pass over the Intracoastal Waterway and have 65 feet of vertical navigational clearance.  Source: correspondence with Florida Department of Transportation.

Causeway Bridge - The bridge built by Ernest Kouwen-Hoven was started in 1919 and completed in 1921. It was 9,706 feet long and 16 feet wide. In July 1921, Melbourne paved the section of New Haven avenue from the railroad east to the bridge. This was Melbourne's first paved street.

IMAGES From Nostalgiaville FLORIDA - Melbourne, FL, see photo of CAUSEWAY historical marker about halfway down the webpage. This discusses the original causeway and the 2-lane causeway that was opened in 1947. Quote (in blue text):
Ernest Kouwen-Hoven, a land developer and promoter of Indialantic-by-the-Sea in 1918-1919, realized that if the seaside town was to become a resort/residential community, a bridge must be built from the mainland to the peninsula. He contracted local carpenters, set up saw mills in various parts of the county and built the first narrow wooden bridge across the Indian River in 1919. It was completed in 1921.
It was 16 feet wide, the steel draw was operated by hand, and it took a total of 14 minutes to open and close the bridge. Kouwen-Hoven collected a toll of 10 cents from motorists using the bridge and enforced a speed limit of 10 MPH. In 1947, the first concrete and steel bridge (with causeway) was completed and the old wooden bridge was torn down.

The Indian River Journal, Volume 1, Number 1 Fall 2002, has this cite about the causeway. Excerpt (in blue text):
By the late 1930s, the old wooden bridge, now owned by the State Road Department, needed replacement. Planners proposed that a causeway be built in order to reduce maintenance costs. The presence of two Naval Air Stations during the war revived the local economy. Housing was in short supply. Work on the bridge was suspended because of  wartime construction needs at the bases. Finally completed in 1947, the new access was open just in time to accommodate Space Program traffic on its way from the mainland to Patrick Air Force Base. Commuters poured through the little community. Soon a new housing boom would be underway in Indialantic.

Melbourne Beach Historical Trail has this information about the three versions of the Melbourne Causeway. Excerpt (in blue text):
20....Melbourne Causeway
Ernest Kouwen-Hoven bought property here and came here to inspect it in 1914. He became friends with Don Beaujean, who was developing Melbourne Beach. Kouwen-Hoven planned Indialantic as a beautiful modern resort with a ferry link to the mainland. He then decided that a bridge would be better, and he built it in stages. Whenever he stopped, Melbourne residents predicted that it would end there, and called it "Kouwen-Hoven's Folly". He started it in 1919 and completed it in April of 1921. It was made of wood and was lit with kerosene lamps which were often knocked over by fishermen, setting the bridge on fire. A new concrete bridge opened in 1947. In 1977, a new high level bridge was built for westbound traffic, and in the early 1980s a new high level eastbound span replaced the 1947 cement and steel swing bridge.

City of Melbourne, Florida - official website. Excerpt (in blue text):
The contemporary City of Melbourne is the result of a merger of the separate communities of Melbourne and Eau Gallie. An election allowed the consolidation under a common charter on July 15, 1969.

Town of Indialantic - official website

Town of Melbourne Beach - official website

Pineda Causeway, FL-404, heading eastbound. I am at the top of the bridge over the Indian River navigational channel, and the first landfall ahead is Merritt Island where FL-404 has an interchange with FL-3. Beyond Merritt Island is the Banana River, which has another set of FL-404 bridges over its navigational channel. Beyond the Banana River is beachfront barrier island, and FL-404 passes along the southern boundary of Patrick Air Force Base, and FL-404 ends in a junction with FL-A1A. Currently, the west end of FL-404 is at its interchange with US-1. A future extension of FL-404 to I-95, is in the planning stages.

The Pineda Causeway opened in 1971. The high-level bridges over the Indian River pass over the Intracoastal Waterway, and have 64 feet of vertical navigational clearance. The high-level bridges over the Banana River have 43 feet of vertical navigational clearance. Source: FDOT correspondence.

Eau Gallie Causeway, FL-518, crosses the Indian River and connects the Eau Gallie section of Melbourne to the beachfront barrier island just south of Indian Harbor Beach.

A 2-lane Eau Gallie Causeway with a swingspan bridge was opened about 1950, very similar in design to the 2-lane Melbourne Causeway that opened in 1947. The current 4-lane high-level bridge was completed in one project in 1988, and the high-level bridge passes over the Intracoastal Waterway and has 65 feet of vertical navigational clearance. The old 2-lane bridge was removed. Source: FDOT correspondence.

Like the Melbourne Causeway, the Eau Gallie Causeway had a predecessor wooden bridge that was built in the 1920s:

Eau Gallie Historical Trail, by Steve Rajtar. Excerpt (in blue text):
Eau Gallie Causeway
3....Dr. W.J. Creel Bridge
The first bridge across the Indian River at this point was built by Grover Fletcher and opened on February 22, 1926. It frequently caught fire in the 1920s and 1930s. After having his sleep interrupted by 16 bridge fires in a 14-night period, fire chief Joe Wickham resigned. In 1927, John R. Mathers constructed a toll bridge from the mainland to Merritt Island, known as Mathers' Bridge, located elsewhere. This bridge named after Dr. W.J. Creel was constructed later.

Mathers Bridge connects the lower end of Merritt Island to Indian Harbor Beach on the oceanfront barrier island.

The Eau Gallie Causeway bridge is called the Dr. W. J. Creel Bridge. The following Dr. W. J. Creel History cites who he was (excerpt in blue text):
 All of this was interesting information about the area, but who was Dr. Creel? The students found out that Dr. Creel was one of the first doctors in the area between Cocoa and Ft. Pierce. His full name was William Jackson Creel. He was well liked by so many people that that one of the first schools was named after him. The old Creel school building was used as a high school, junior high, elementary school, adult education center, a recycle center, and school board offices over the years. It overlooked the river in the old Eau Gallie ("rocky water") section of Melbourne. The children also found out that the bridge they called the Eau Gallie Causeway was also named the Dr. W. J. Creel Bridge.

Dr. Creel was mayor of Eau Gallie three different times, went to the state legislature in 1927 but served only one term. In 1972 a school was built and named as the new Dr. W. J. Creel School.

NASA Causeway, Kennedy Space Center, in Brevard County.


Vehicle Assembly Building, Kennedy Space Center, in Brevard County.

The Vehicle Assembly Building is the building where the Apollo/Saturn V vehicles were assembled for launch, and it is now utilized for assembly for launch, the Space Shuttle vehicles.

Bridge over Sebastian Inlet, connecting two sections of oceanfront barrier island that are divided by the inlet. This is heading northbound, and the Atlantic Ocean is visible on the right. North of the inlet is Brevard County, and south of the inlet is Indian River County. The inlet connects the Indian River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Brevard Metropolitan Planning Organization

I-595 Port Everglades Expressway, Broward County.


I-595 Port Everglades Expressway, Broward County.


Interchange between I-75, I-595 and the FL-869 Sawgrass Expressway, west of Miami.


I-595 Port Everglades Expressway, by Earth Tech. Excerpt (in blue text):
Earth Tech provided program and construction management services on the $1.2 billion Port Everglades Expressway project. A 13.5-mile interstate highway was constructed linking the North-South I-95 and Florida Turnpike and connecting Florida's west coast with I-75. The I-595 Port Everglades Expressway is the largest public works project ever undertaken in Florida, and one of the largest highway projects in the nation. It provides a limited access roadway for commuters and for long distance bulk cargo through crowded Broward County from the deepwater port and the airport in Fort Lauderdale to the cities of Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa. Earth Tech services included turnkey right-of-way acquisition, pre-final design, final design, and bid packaging.

The Port Everglades Expressway is 400 feet wide and passes through a heavily developed urban area. Minimizing the economic or social impacts to the community was critical to the success of the project. The relocation of utilities and the acquisition of right-of-way amounted to almost half of the project cost. Maintaining access to business and preserving traffic flow on local and state roads as well as on I-95 were major accomplishments.

Interstate 595, history of the Port Everglades Expressway, by Tropical Turnpikes.

Port Everglades, by APM Terminals. Excerpts (in blue text):
Located on the southeastern coast of Florida, the seaport is ideally situated to provide easy access to Europe, the Americas, and the Far East. In addition to its strategic location, there are several natural attributes which place Port Everglades at a competitive advantage over most other seaports. At 44 feet (13.4 meters) Mean-Low-Water, Port Everglades is the deepest commercial harbor south of Norfolk, Virginia. This means that the port can handle nearly any vessel currently in operation or being designed. In addition, the 1.2 nautical mile distance from the sea bouy to the main turning basin makes it the shortest and straightest entrance of any seaport on the Atlantic Coast.

The Port Everglades Expressway (I-595) provides instant access to I-95, I-75 and the Florida Turnpike. This highway link gives the shipping community the most direct access to the interstate highway system from any port on the Atlantic coast.

Port Everglades Broward County official website.

Port Everglades port official website.

Palmetto Expressway, Florida Route 826, southbound. This freeway forms a partial beltway around Miami.


Palmetto Expressway, southbound. This freeway forms a partial beltway around Miami.


East-West Expressway, Florida Route 836, in Miami. The overpassing bridge in the foreground is the Metrorail rapid rail transit line.


I-95 in downtown Miami.


I-75 "Alligator Alley" in the Everglades, about 20 miles west of the I-75/I-595 interchange.


Everglades, near Immokalee.


Everglades, near Immokalee.


Everglades, near Immokalee.


Lake Okeechobee, viewed from a levee near Canal Point. The lake is over 25 miles wide and is therefore wide enough so that you cannot see land on the opposite side of the lake. Click for larger image (300 KB).

The South Florida Water Management District has a webpage Lake Okeechobee, which has a lot of information and links about the lake. The elevation of the lake above sea level is significant, and there is a graph that shows that it has ranged from 11 1/2 feet to 17 feet between January 2002 and December 2003. Lake Okeechobee Photos. Excerpt from main page (in blue text):
Lake Okeechobee is the "liquid heart" of South Florida. It is a large, shallow lake located in south-central Florida. The lake has a surface area of 730 square miles and is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 9 feet (2.7 meters). It is the second-largest freshwater lake in the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan. Lake Okeechobee's drainage basin covers more than 4,600 square miles (11,913 km2). An extensive network of monitoring sites provide data about flood control, water supply, and water quality. By monitoring Lake Okeechobee's waters, the South Florida Water Management District is gaining a better understanding of this essential part of South Florida's heritage, and can make more accurate predictions and plans for the continuing protection of this great resource.

Everglades National Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Everglades Ecosystem, Everglades National Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Everglades Florida, Southwest Florida's Everglades, Chokoloskee, Everglades City and the 10,000 Islands offer tourists and Florida residents outdoor recreational opportunities, fishing, boating, canoeing, bird watching, camping and more.

Everglades National Park, Welcome to the Everglades National Park Page, unofficial site.

Everglades Excursions, offers complete eco-tours including a Jungle Cruise, Safari Wagon tour, Gator exhibit, airboat sightseeing, historical Everglades sites.

Everglades Online, A Guide to Everglades Florida and other Florida City Guides.

Dames Point Bridge, Jacksonville, Florida, on State Route 9A (future I-295).



Dames Point Bridge, Jacksonville, Florida, on State Route 9A. Click for larger image (533 KB).



Aesthetic Lighting of Florida Bridges - Florida DOT site that has a nighttime photo of the Dames Point Bridge.

Dames Point Bridge, by Mike Strong, with an excellent aerial photo of the Dames Point Bridge. Excerpt (in blue text):
The Dames Point Bridge
(also known as the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge or Dame Point Bridge) spans the St. Johns River northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Two miles long, and 175 feet above the main channel of the river, the Dames Point Bridge connects northern Duval County with the Arlington and Beaches area of Jacksonville via Florida Highway 9A. Opened to traffic in 1989, it is a premier example of the beautiful simplicity of the cable-stayed bridge.

From the Dames Point Bridge Fact Sheet, the Cornell School of Civil & Environmental Engineering. (excerpts of data in blue text):
Bridge Type: cable-stayed, cast-in-place segmental concrete construction
· towers - reinforced concrete
· deck - prestressed reinforced concrete
· cables - steel threadbar tendons
Designers: Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendorff - New York Office
Contractors: · Pensacola Construction Co., Kansas City, MO
Construction Supervisors:
· Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendorff - New York Office
· Sverdrup and Parcell Associates - Jacksonville
Owner: Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Completion date: Opened to traffic on March 10, 1989
Main Span - 1300 feet (396.3 meters)
Side Spans - 650 feet (198.2 meters)
Width - 105 feet 9 inches (32.2 meters - 6 Lanes of traffic)
Navigation Channel - 1250 feet wide, 175 feet high (above Mean High Water)
Tower Height - 468.8 feet (above Mean High Water)

The last 3 photos are at Savannah, Georgia.

US-17 cable-stayed bridge over Savannah Front River under construction at Savannah, Georgia. The new 4-lane cable-stayed bridge had just opened to traffic, and it has 185 feet of vertical navigational clearance, and the old 2-lane cantilever bridge is in the process of being dismantled. The bridge is named the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge (the old bridge had the same name).

Photo taken from Savannah, the south end of the bridge.

US-17 cable-stayed bridge over Savannah Front River under construction at Savannah, Georgia.

This photo was taken from the same vantage point as the previous photo, but it was taken with a 135mm (2.7x) telephoto lens, instead of the 50mm (1.0x) regular lens used previously.

US-17 cable-stayed bridge over Savannah Front River at Savannah, Georgia.

Photo taken from Hutchinson Island, the north end of the bridge.



The Georgia Department of Transportation has a website about the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, with details and photos of the old and new bridges. Excerpt (in blue text):
The Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge crosses the Savannah Harbor Navigation Channel approximately 15 miles from the mouth of the Savannah River. Construction of the original Talmadge Bridge began in March, 1953, and the project opened to traffic in September, 1954. The construction cost was approximately $12,500,000 and was paid with state bonds. The construction contractor was Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation. The bridge was owned by The Coastal Highway District of Georgia, a political subdivision of Georgia founded in 1924 to build and pave the “ocean highway”, US 17. The original bridge had a vertical clearance of 136 feet at high tide and a horizontal clearance of approximately 600 feet.

GDOT hired Greiner Engineering Services in 1981 to study a bridge replacement. In July, 1987, bids were opened for the construction of the mainspan, a cable stayed span. The contract was awarded to Guy F. Atkinson Company and S.J. Groves & Sons Company for $25,702,607. The project was completed and opened to traffic in March of 1991. The approaches and related roadwork was contracted separately in 1988 to The Hardaway Company for $45,202,502. Their work was completed in 1991. The bridge replacement project was funded with state and federal funds. In 1988, the road over the Talmadge Bridge was designated as US Route 17. The new Talmadge Bridge has a vertical clearance of 185 feet at high tide and a horizontal clearance of 1,023 feet with both main piers located on land outside of the Savannah River.

I read about the Talmadge Bridge project in Engineering News-Record when it was under construction, and that it had just opened a month before my trip, so I made sure and got off I-95 to go into the city to see it. Providing higher shipping clearance was the biggest single goal of the project, as I recall, since the Port of Savannah believed that the existing 136-foot clearance was restricting the growth of the port, and the new 185-foot clearance bridge removed that obstacle. Given that the original bridge was opened in 1954, it likely would have been structurally adequate for years to come. The original bridge suffered two ship collisions, and with the new bridge having both main piers located on land outside of the river, the new bridge is protected from ship collisions.

The connector to the bridge from I-16 in the city of Savannah has 4 or more lanes, but the bridge between Hutchinson Island and South Carolina, was the original 2-lane bridge, and about 4 miles of US-17 just north of there, was 2 lanes also. I understand that those sections are still 2 lanes in January 2004. It seems to me that after spending all that money to replace the Talmadge bridge and approaches with a 4-lane facility, that it would have been appropriate to make all of US-17 four lanes in South Carolina up to I-95. There are a lot of wetlands on that section, maybe that is the obstacle to widening that section.

All photos taken by Scott Kozel.

Copyright © 2004 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 1-1-2004, minor updates 2-19-2004)