According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), restoration of Florida’s iconic overseas highway began the week of Sept 25th, 2017. Construction on the bridge will continue until July, 2021. The project will cost an estimated 33.3M.
Seven Mile Bridge, which was once the world’s longest bridge has fallen to 65th place. Currently, the title of longest bridge belongs to China’s Dunyang-Kunshan Bridge. However, the Dunyan-Kunshan Bridge is restricted to light rail and doesn’t possess the charm of our own Seven Mile Bridge. Despite the fall to a mere 65th place and a projected 4 years of restoration, Seven Mile Bridge remains the most scenic way to take in the Florida Keys.
Seven Mile bridge possesses a long history and has undergone a number of renovations. The bridge was constructed between 1909-1912 by a private investor for rail. Subsequently, the bridge was destroyed by the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, the first category-5 hurricane to make landfall in the US. After the devastating Labor Day Hurricane, the bridge was sold to Monroe county and rebuilt. The Florida Rambler recollects the 2-lane incarnation of the bridge (1935-1982) as a “white-knuckle experience.” However, during 1982, the bridge was renovated into a sleek and modern cement structure. Today, the bridge is, yet again, undergoing massive renovations. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) states that repairs will include:
Repairing concrete columns
Repairing steel beam including painting
Removing retired water main
Repairing the bridge deck
Installing pedestrian/bicycle railing
Adding signing and pavement markings along the bridge
Additionally, pedestrian access will be prohibited during construction, as well as access to underpasses. This is disheartening to many locals and tourists, the bridges underpasses provide the perfect spot for fishing and the pedestrian access areas, a relic from the bridge’s history as a rail thoroughfare, allow for photographs of the regions endless sunsets. Renovations include a facelift and will make pedestrian access areas safer.
Regardless of orange mesh signs and traffic, Seven Mile Bridge remains the most scenic way to get to the Florida Keys. Road construction may be a hassle, but it’s important to upkeep this integral part of Floridian culture.