1915 - 2015: 100 Years of FDOT

Florida is known for having one of the best highway networks in the country. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the agency responsible for most of it. Here is a brief look at a century of milestones achieved by the Florida Department of Transportation. Happy birthday, FDOT!

Published March 3, 2015 in Transportation - MetroJacksonville.com

FDOT Centennial: Major Milestones


Florida State Road Department secretary Henry Philips, center, and staff. Image taken between 1921 and 1925. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/105507

State Road Department First Authorized - The State Road Department, the predecessor of today's Florida Department of Transportation, was authorized in 1915 by the Florida Legislature. For the first two years, the department acted as an advisory body to 52 counties in the state.

1915 to Present
Former FDOT Secretaries - Between the chairmen of the State Road Department and the secretaries of the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida has had a total of 38 leaders driving the state’s transportation infrastructure over the last 100 years.

UF Hosts First FDOT Laboratory - The State Road Department’s central laboratory was initially housed on the first floor of the Engineering building at the University of Florida.

First Districts Created - The State Road Department created Divisions which later became Districts.

1923 to 1928

Looking east at work boats during the construction of the Tamiami Trail. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/35488

US 41/Tamiami Trail - Construction crews built US 41/Tamiami Trail during the 1920s in Collier County. Work began on these segments of US 41 in 1923 and finished in 1928. The corridor runs along U.S. 41 both east/west and north/south throughout Florida, winding its way through cities, areas, and swampy regions. The name is derived from its connection from Tampa to Miami.

Bridge of Lions in St. Johns County - The Bridge of Lions over the Matanzas River in St. Augustine in St. Johns County was originally built in 1927 to take traffic between St. Augustine to Anastasia Island.

St. Andrews Bay Bridge Constructed - St. Andrews Bay Bridge connected the barrier island (now Panama City Beach) to Panama City in Bay County. The bridge featured a 200-foot long "swing span" that opened for shipping traffic.

Thomas Edison Attends Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Lee County Bridge - Thomas Edison attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Edison Bridge in Fort Myers, Lee County. The new drawbridge was named in his honor at his winter home of Fort Myers on his 84th birthday. Today, the original bridge serves as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico, replaced by the dual span Edison Bridges. The ceremony was February 11, 1931.

Highway Safety First Began Under the State Road Department - The road department hired 12 weight inspectors who were placed under the supervision of division engineers. This was the beginning of state law enforcement in Florida.

U.S. 98 Opens - U.S. 98 first opened as a Florida-only U.S. highway, stretching along the northwest coast of the state from Apalachicola to Pensacola.
Ben T. Davis Causeway Opens - The Ben T. Davis Causeway opened as a private toll way and was built to provide a more direct link between Tampa and Clearwater across Old Tampa Bay


SR A1A from Dade County Line to State Road 820. Looking north towards the Dade-Broward County Line at the south end of project on September 12, 1955. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104237

State Road 1 Renamed State Road A1A - Since State Road 1 and U.S. Highway 1 intersected and ran parallel with each other, S.R. 1 was renamed S.R. A1A to eliminate confusion and retain the numeral “1” for the most easterly vertical road. It is the only Florida state road with a letter in the name.

1946 to 1952
Drew Army Airfield - In 1946, the Drew Army Airfield was returned to the city of Tampa for civil use as Drew Field Municipal Airport. The airport later became Tampa International Airport.

First Welcome Centers Open for Travelers Coming to Florida - One of Florida’s first welcome centers opened in 1949 on U.S. 17 just south of the St. Mary’s River Bridge. Once I-95 opened to traffic, the welcome center was moved to I-95 in 1976. Today only the foundation remains of the original welcome center.


Construction of Florida's Turnpike. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38466

Construction Begins on Florida's Turnpike - Construction first began on Florida's Turnpike in the mid-1950s and was completed in 1957. At that time, the Sunshine State's landscape was mainly rural and drivers needed to cover long distances.

1957 to 1973
Interstate 10 Opens in North Florida - The I-10 corridor began in Duval County in 1957 and ended in Madison County in 1973. It provided an east-west route that connected Jacksonville with Santa Monica California.


Showing aerial photograph of recently completed tunnel under New River at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104201

U.S. 1 Tunnel Opens in Fort Lauderdale - The U.S. 1 Tunnel under New River in Fort Lauderdale opened on December 9, 1960. This would be the only tunnel on the state highway system until 2014.

1963 to 1964
Interstate 75 Opens in North Florida - I-75 began opening to traffic in early 1963 and was completely open through North Florida by the end of 1964. The last section of I-75 was opened in the Fort Lauderdale area by the mid-90s.

Interstate 4: Central Florida’s Commuter Road of Choice - Constructed in six segments, I-4 was built to handle 70,000 vehicles per day through the downtown Orlando when it opened in March 1965. I-4 currently handles nearly triple that capacity today.

Interstate 4 through downtown Orlando. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103946

Florida Department of Transportation Created - The Florida Department of Transportation was formed in 1969. It absorbed the powers of the State Road Department.
Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral - The U.S. successfully put a man on the moon with Apollo 11 in 1969. Historically, FDOT has been actively involved in funding Spaceport projects.

1978 to 1983
Seven Mile Bridge - The Seven Mile Bridge, the longest bridge in the Florida Keys, connects Knight’s Key Marathon to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. The current bridge opened in 1978 and has a current average daily traffic of 15,100 vehicles.

1982 to 1987

Aerial view showing the old and new Sunshine Skyway bridges in 1989. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/131305

Sunshine Skyway Bridge - The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which spans Florida's Tampa Bay, is part of I-275 (SR 93) and US 19 (SR 55). Construction of the current bridge began in 1982 and finished in 1987.

Southwest Florida International Airport Opens - The Southwest Florida International Airport (originally a regional airport) first opened in May 1983 in Fort Myers.  The airport is one of the busiest single runway airports in the nation.

Interstate 95 “Missing Link” Completed - The “Missing Link” of I-95 between Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart was completed. This was the last piece of I-95 completed in the United States. The completed I-95 runs 383 miles along the east coast of Florida from Miami to the Georgia state line in Duval County.


FDOT Purchases CSX Rail Corridor - FDOT purchased the CSX Rail Corridor between Miami and West Palm Beach to begin Tri-Rail Commuter Service.


FDOT Begins Using SunPass - SunPass was implemented across most of Florida's toll roads, saving drivers time, money and the hassles of digging for change.

FDOT Launches Free Road Ranger Service - Road Rangers provide free highway assistance services during incidents to reduce delay and improve safety for the motoring public and responders. Since 2000, the program has made over 4.3 million service assists

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise Forms - Florida's Turnpike Enterprise was created by the Florida Department of Transportation.

2007 to Present
Miami Intermodal Center - The Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) project at the Miami International Airport began in 2007. The MIC will provide connectivity between Palm Beach County, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Florida Keys.

2008 to 2010
95 Express - The first of its kind in the State of Florida, the 95 Express project combined tolling, transit, travel-demand management and technology to meet current and future travel demands.

FDOT's First P3 Project - FDOT signed a 35-year agreement for a Public-Private Partnership (P3) project on Interstate 595. This was the first Public-Private Partnership (P3) ever initiated by FDOT.

All-Electronic Tolling - Florida's Turnpike converted the southern 47 miles of the Turnpike in Miami-Dade County to All-Electronic Tolling in February 2011. Motorists now use SunPass or TOLL-BY-PLATE and never stop for a toll.
FDOT Motor Carrier Moves to DHSMV - The Office of Motor Carrier Compliance transitioned from FDOT to the Florida Highway Patrol division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on July 1, 2011.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology First Introduced - Autonomous vehicle technology was first authorized for use on public roads in the State of Florida in 2012.

Courtney Campbell Trail Funded - The first segment of the Cortney Campbell Trail (Hillsborough County side) was completed in November 2013. Once the Pinellas side of the trail is completed in 2015, it will be approximately 9 miles long and will connect Tampa to Clearwater.


CSX State-of-the-Art Terminal in Winter Haven - The grand opening of the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center was held October 2014. This centralized hub for transportation, logistics and distribution serves Orlando, Tampa and South Florida.
Passenger Rail Comes to Central Florida - SunRail officially left the gates and moved onto the tracks in May 2014. With free service for the first 12 days of operation, there were nearly 135,000 total boardings during the first 12 days. Sunrail connects DeBary to Sand Lake Road over 12 stations and 32 miles. Five more stations are expected by 2017.
PortMiami Tunnel - The PortMiami Tunnel was built by MAT Concessionaire, LLC, in partnership with FDOT, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. By connecting SR A1A/MacArthur Causeway to Dodge Island, the project provided direct access between the seaport, I-395 and I-95.

Wekiva Parkway - The Wekiva Parkway culminates nearly 30 years of efforts to complete Central Florida’s beltway while also protecting the natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com. Outline courtesy of FDOT. Cover aerial of Palmetto Expressway courtesy of http://demoya.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/666198.jpg.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-mar-1915-2015-100-years-of-fdot

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