Overseas Highway in Florida named All-American Road

KEY LARGO

The Overseas Highway, which stretches across the Florida Keys, is now an All-American Road.

Federal officials announced the designation Friday at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Completed in 1938, the Overseas Highway incorporates 42 bridges over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It's the highest recognition possible under the National Scenic Byways program.

Three other Florida roads were recognized as new National Scenic Byways, including the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway in the north-central region, the Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail near Ormond Beach and the Big Bend Scenic Byway in the Panhandle.

Only 30 other U.S. roadways have earned the prestigious title. Keys officials expect the accolade will lead to increased tourism and additional highway funding.

"The All-American Road designation will bring status to us with international and domestic visitors, so that they know driving U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West is a one-of-a-kind driving experience," said Judy Hull, who was in Washington for the ceremony. Hull is president of the Florida Keys Scenic Corridor Alliance that spearheaded a multiyear effort to achieve the distinction.

"It should help us with tourism and future highway grant funding."

The Overseas Highway follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 when Standard Oil millionaire Henry Flagler completed the extension of his Florida East Coast Railroad from Miami to Key West. Construction of the highway began after the railroad ceased following a 1935 hurricane.

In 1982, 37 of the original bridges, including the Seven Mile Bridge, were replaced with wider spans. Most of the historic bridges still stand alongside the newer ones and serve as fishing piers for anglers.

Along with the Overseas Highway, officials announced four other All-American Roads. They are Historic Route 66 in Arizona, Maine's Acadia All-American Road Trenton Extension, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Maryland and Michigan's Woodward Avenue (M-1) Automotive Heritage Trail.

Overseas Highway in Florida named All-American Road 10/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2009 12:02am]

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