Seven Mile Bridge in Florida

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The Seven Mile Bridge is an iconic bridge in the Florida Keys of United States, stretching out into the open sea, connecting Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. At the time of its completion in 1982, it was the longest continuous concrete segmental bridge in the world, and is currently one of the longest bridges in America.

Seven Mile Bridge actually consist of two bridges in the same location. The older bridge, originally known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, was constructed from 1909-1912 as part of the Overseas Railroad. After the railroad sustained considerable damage during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the bridge was refurbished for automobile use only. Dismantled tracks was recycled, painted white, and used as guardrails. It had a swing span that opened to allow passage of boat traffic, near where the bridge crosses Pigeon Key - a small island that once served as the work camp for the Florida East Coast Railway. When Hurricane Donna in 1960 inflicted further damage, decision to construct a new bridge was made.

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A new, wider and sturdier Seven Mile Bridge was built right next to it from 1978 to 1982. When that happened, the original Seven Mile Bridge was nudged out of Florida’s transportation system. The vast majority of the original bridge still exists, used as fishing piers and access to Pigeon Key, but the swing span over the Moser Channel of the Intracoastal Waterway has been removed.

The total length of the new bridge is just under seven miles at 6.79 miles (10.93 km), and is shorter than the original. Each April the bridge is closed for approximately 2.5 hours on a Saturday and a "fun run," known as the Seven Mile Bridge Run, of 1,500 runners is held commemorating the Florida Keys bridge rebuilding project. The event began in 1982 to commemorate the completion of a federally funded bridge building program that replaced spans that oil tycoon Henry Flagler constructed in the early 1900s to serve as a foundation for his Overseas Railroad.

The old bridge is still a popular spot with both locals and tourists, but it’s slowly falling apart. Salt water and storms are eroding the bridge faster than the state can afford to repair it. Much of the bridge is now closed – only a 2.2 mile section of the Old Seven Bridge is still open to pedestrians and cyclists.

Two years ago, a nonprofit community group called “Friends of Old Seven” was formed to try to preserve, and if possible, repair the bridge. The Florida Department of Transportation, which owns the bridge, cannot afford to sink a lot of money into the bridge’s upkeep, but is still willing to donate half of the $18 to $20 million required to repair the bridge. The community is now working hard to put up the other half.

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Sources: Wikipedia, WLRN

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7 comments:

  1. I remember seeing a post card of these bridges when I was a child and telling my grandpa about a bridge that went across the ocean! I think I was maybe 8 but even today knowing it does not actually cross the entire ocean it still fascinates me. Thanks and keep up the great posts. I love this website.

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  2. why among pictures of Old Seven Miles Bridge you have photo of Bahia Honda Bridge? (Fifth picture from the end).


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  3. These pictures are gorgeous. I'm going there next week to run that 7 mile bridge run. Feels great to know the history.

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  4. Only in Florida.

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    1. As opposed to a 7-mile bridge in Iowa, apparently.

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  5. I would be scared to death of that bridge!!! NO THANKS, lol!!

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  6. Imagine the thrill of getting a brand new 1978 Trans Am and breaking it in on a trip from NJ to Marathon, FL. We took many trips across the original Seven Mile Bridge. I have to admit that the trip over that narrow bridge was pretty much a white-knuckle experience, with 18-wheelers and big RVs flying by me in the opposite direction at 55 MPH. I even have the "I SURVIVED THE SEVEN MILE BRIDGE" tee shirt that I bought in 1978. This is truly a look into the past, and like so many other people out there, that old bridge has a grip on my heart.

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