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Highway’s last gap filled in 25 years ago

Memories often are short and it’s likely many a veteran motorist no longer recalls what it was like before the “Missing Link” was filled in.

Twenty-five years ago this week, on Dec. 19, 1987, then-Gov. Bob Martinez came to northern Palm Beach County to cut the ribbon on a 29.7-mile stretch of Interstate 95.

It was the last remaining gap in the the expressway’s 1,857 miles from Maine to Miami.

Don’t forget that until 1966, none of Interstate 95 ran through Palm Beach County.

The first portion, a 3.6-mile stretch from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street in West Palm Beach, opened Dec. 14, 1966. In 1969, the part north to Palm Beach Gardens. In December 1975, portions between Lake Worth and Hypoluxo and between Boynton Beach and Miami. And on July 3, 1976, it stretched from Miami all the way to PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens.

But from there, you had to leave the expressway and go west a short distance to Florida’s Turnpike. If you really weren’t in a hurry, you could work your way up U.S. 1.

It would be another 13 years before that last part was completed.

A big reason: it seemed no one could agree on where it should go. Some wanted it to run east of the turnpike. Environmentalists worried about the impact on the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee rivers, and favored a route about 6 miles west of the turnpike. The U.S. Highway Administration said traffic counts weren’t high enough for another north-south route and suggested I-95 link to the turnpike or U.S. 1 instead.

When the stretch finally did open, not everyone liked its path; for most of it from Jupiter to northern Martin County, it runs side by side with the turnpike, so close that motorists can read signs on both highways.

And it takes a big jog to the west at the St. Lucie Canal, coming back over about 20 miles later near State Road 70 west of Fort Pierce.

But on that December day, 150 politicians, construction workers and others watched at the expressway’s new State 714 interchange, west of Stuart, as the governor burst out of a pink-wrapped gift box in the state’s ceremonial 1929 Ford Model AA truck.

Now, people take “the missing link” for granted. At least, until some big crash closes it. Usually in the middle of rush hour.


State and local dignitaries, including Gov. Bob Martinez, gathered on I-95 near County Road 714 west of Stuart in December 1987 to cut the ribbon opening the 30-mile “missing link”of I-95 between CR 714 and PGA Boulevard. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg December 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm.

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This week in history: I-95 missing link opens

On Dec. 19, 1987 the 29.7-mile “missing link” section of Interstate 95 opened between Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart, completing the nearly 1,900 miles of interstate from Miami to Maine. The first Palm Beach County section of the highway opened in 1966, between Okeechobee Boulevard and 45th Street in West Palm Beach.

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Posted in Flashback blog December 19, 2011 at 6:00 am.

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This week in history: Interstate 95 grows

On July 3, 1976, Interstate 95 from Miami to Palm Beach Gardens was opened. The first part of I-95 in Palm Beach County was built in 1966, a 3.6-mile stretch from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street in West Palm Beach, followed by the segment reaching north to Palm Beach Gardens in 1969, and then portions between Lake Worth and Hypoluxo and from Miami to Boynton Beach in 1975. It wasn’t until 1987 that the “missing link” between Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Pierce was completed.

i951966

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Posted in Flashback blog June 30, 2010 at 10:43 am.

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I-95′s ‘missing link’ opened in 1987

It’s been only 20 years since South Florida finally connected to the rest of the world. Before Dec. 19, 1987, motorists traveling from Fort Pierce to Palm Beach Gardens had one route: Florida’s Turnpike.

That changed with the opening of the 29.7-mile “missing link,” the last remaining open stretch of Interstate 95′s 1,857 miles from Maine to Miami.

Into the 1960s, I-95 was invisible for much of this region. By 1976 it was finished from Miami to Palm Beach Gardens.

But the “missing link” stayed on paper for another 13 years. It seemed no one could agree on where it should go. Some wanted it to run east of the turnpike. Environmentalists worried about the impact on the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee rivers, and favored a route about 6 miles west of the turnpike. The U.S. Highway Administration said traffic counts weren’t high enough for another north-south route and suggested I-95 link to the turnpike or U.S. 1 instead.

When the stretch finally did open, not everyone liked its path; for most of it from Jupiter to northern Martin County, it runs side by side with the turnpike, so close that motorists can read signs on both highways.
And it takes a big jog to the west at the St. Lucie Canal, coming back over about 20 miles later near State Road 70 west of Fort Pierce.

Key openings of I-95 segments: Dec. 14, 1966 — first portion in Palm Beach County, a 3.6-mile stretch from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street in West Palm Beach; 1969 — north to Palm Beach Gardens; December 1975 — portions between Lake Worth and Hypoluxo and between Boynton Beach and Miami; July 3, 1976 — between Palm Beach Gardens and Miami.

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg December 19, 2007 at 12:47 pm.

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County’s Part Of I-95 Opened In ’66

Readers: It’s hard to imagine a time before Interstate 95. But it was only 40 years ago, on Dec. 14, 1966, that even the first portion in Palm Beach County opened. A stretch near Jacksonville had been open for six years. The Palm Beach County segment was a lonely 3.6-mile stretch from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street in West Palm Beach, and it got no company for three years until it was extended north to Palm Beach Gardens in 1969.
Expansion continued piecemeal; it would be December 1975 before portions were completed between Lake Worth and Hypoluxo and between Boynton Beach and Miami. On July 3, 1976, the expressway was complete between Palm Beach Gardens and Miami.
But the 29.7-mile stretch between Gardens and Fort Pierce stayed on drawing boards for more than 13 years, mostly because few could agree on where it would go. Some wanted it to run east of Florida’s Turnpike. Environmentalists worried about the impact on the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee rivers, and favored
a route about 6 miles west of the turnpike. At one point, the feds said traffic counts didn’t justify it at all, suggesting the turnpike was enough.
The “missing link” finally opened Dec. 19, 1987. Not everyone liked its path; for most of the stretch from Jupiter to northern Martin County, it runs side by side with the turnpike, so close that motorists can read signs on both highways. And it takes a big jog to the west at the St. Lucie Canal, coming back over about 20 miles later near State Road 70 west of Fort Pierce.
But at long last, the final gap in the interstate’s 1,857-mile length had been filled.
Correction: The Way We Were photo that was published last week in Neighborhood Post was attributed incorrectly. The photo was sent in by Kenneth Lane Sr. in Boynton Beach.

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg December 13, 2006 at 8:21 am.

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