Original Overseas Highway

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Some portions of the old Overseas Highway are signed as County Road 905 on street blades or retain older state road shields for C-905. Two portions of the route at Plantation and Windley Keys are profiled on the County Road 905 guide.

Sombrero Beach Boulevard

There are two segments of original Overseas Highway still in use at Marathon. The easternmost spur travels south from U.S. 1 along the Vaca Key Bight to Tingler Island and Sister Creek and was designated Monroe County 931. The road is also known as Sombrero Beach Boulevard as it serves residential areas along the south and southeast facing waters of Marathon.

Sombrero Beach Boulevard west
Approaching the west end of Sombrero Beach Road near a public park along the south shores of Tingler Island. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A chain link fence and guard rail lie between the end of Sombrero Beach Road and the waters of Sister Creek. Across the waterway is the semi-abandoned stretch of 20th Street, the continuation of former Monroe County Road 931 and original Overseas Highway. Photo taken 05/07/06.
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Some scenes of the public beach at Tingler Island in south Marathon. The teal waters of the Florida Straits lap upon the sandy white coral beach. Bright sunshine drenches everything otherwise, as we stand in the low latitude of 24 degrees 41 inches north of the Equator. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Sombrero Beach Boulevard east
The north end of Sombrero Beach Boulevard at U.S. 1 (Overseas Highway). Marathon Airport lies a short distance to the east. U.S. 1 southbound meets the return of former Monroe County Road 931 in 1.9 miles to the west. Photo taken 05/07/06.

20th Street

Unlike the section of original Monroe County 931 along Sombrero Beach Boulevard, the segment along 20th Street is mostly abandoned, with just a short spur serving just a handful of buildings south from U.S. 1 on Palm Island. The portion along Boot Key is inaccessible as the 1972 draw bridge across Boot Key Harbor was closed by the late 2000s.

20th Street south
Leaving U.S. 1 (Overseas Highway) and approaching the draw bridge over Boot Key Harbor. This stretch is now closed. Photo taken 05/07/06.
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Crossing the former Boot Key Harbor draw bridge along 20th Street south. The bascule was removed by the late 2000s, leaving two stubs. Photos taken 05/07/06.
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A 30 mph speed limit was posted along all of 20th Street South on Boot Key. Attaining that speed proved difficult on many parts of the roadway due to vegetation overgrowth and pavement ruts. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Boot Key is vastly undeveloped and the east end of 20th Street lied in a forested area. There was no view of Sister Creek or the west end of Sombrero Beach Boulevard. Photo taken 05/07/06.
20th Street north
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Traveling back west and north along 20th Street. The majority of the road was relegated to one lane as trees and bushes overtook the road from the outside. Photos taken 05/07/06.
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Even on the approach to the Boot Key Harbor draw bridge, vegetation encroached upon the 20th Street right of way. The span was relegated to a 15 mph speed limit. Photos taken 05/07/06.
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Northbound views of the now closed draw bridge over Boot Key Harbor. 20th Street descends and meets U.S. 1 (Overseas Highway) within one quarter mile. Photos taken 05/07/06.

Watson Boulevard

Watson Boulevard represents the original Overseas Highway alignment on both Big Pine Key and No Name Key. The alignment joined with SR 4A on Little Torch Key to the west and Spanish Harbor Keys to the south. Much of the alignment travels through the National Key Deer Refuge. This includes an abandoned section of roadway stemming south from Watson Boulevard within the Refuge from No Name Key south to Refuge Key.

Watson Boulevard east
Approaching the Doctors Arm area along Watson Boulevard east between Key Deer Boulevard and Avenue B. The stretch of roadway near the northward turn resembles many other residential areas within the state of Florida. Photo taken 05/07/06.
Watson Boulevard turns northward at Avenue B to span the northern reaches of Doctors Arm. Photo taken 05/07/06.
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A two-lane concrete bridge with shoulders carries Watson Boulevard over Bogie Channel between Big Pine Key and No Name Key. Several locals were parked along the bridge fishing at the time of these photos. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Watson Boulevard enters the National Key Deer Refuge on No Name Key as it leaves the Bogie Channel Bridge. Asides a handful of dwellings along the northern reaches of the island, the key is left for the Key Deer. Photo taken 05/07/06.
Entering the last 1,000 feet of Watson Boulevard. A speed limit of just 25 is posted along the stretch on No Name Key. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A couple of large boulders act as the barricade at the east end of Watson Boulevard. Photo taken 05/07/06.
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The expansive Bahia Honda Channel lies beyond the boulders and Little Pine Key along the northern horizon. The stench of decaying organic matter permeates the air along the east shore of No Name Key otherwise. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Watson Boulevard west
Looking west from the eastern shore of No Name Key at the beginning of Watson Boulevard. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A straight shot carries motorists to the Bogue Channel crossing between No Name Key and Big Pine Key along Watson Boulevard. Photo taken 05/07/06.
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Westbound views of the concrete bridge carrying Watson Boulevard over Bogue Channel. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Watson Boulevard turns south at Doctors Arm and then west again at Avenue A. The road between Avenue C and Key Deer Boulevard is undeveloped. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A stop sign governs the movements between Watson Boulevard and Key Deer Boulevard. Key Deer Boulevard links Watson Boulevard with U.S. 1 (Overseas Highway) to the south and the Blue Hole, Gulf and Kyle Avenues to the north. Watson Boulevard continues west to a dead end at Pine Channel, opposite the SR 4A segment of original Overseas Highway on Little Torch Key. Photo taken 05/07/06.

SR 4A (State Road 4A)

A short section of old Overseas Highway, signed as simply "SR 4A", exists at Little Torch Key. The two-lane roadway spurs north from U.S. 1 to an RV park at the north end of the island and a canal-based community along Pine Channel. A bridge originally joined the SR 4A spur with Watson Boulevard at Big Pine Key.

SR 4A north
Marshland and very shallow water lines the sides of SR 4A as it departs U.S. 1 (Overseas Highway). County Road and Linda Street spur east within the next half mile to communities along South Pine Channel. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A congested area sign lies ahead of the RV park along SR 4A near its end. The road turns east at Coral Shores Road and abruptly ends otherwise. Photo taken 05/07/06.
The end of SR 4A at Little Torch Key. Across Pine Channel is the end of Watson Boulevard, the Overseas Highway alignment over Big Pine and No Name Keys. Photo taken 05/07/06.
SR 4A south
Leaving the RV park area along SR 4A southbound on Little Torch Key. A 30 mph speed limit is in place along the entire alignment of SR 4A. Photo taken 05/07/06.

U.S. 1 - Bahia Honda Bridges

The modern Overseas Highway travels over Bahia Honda Channel along a pair of two-lane concrete bridges. The four-lane section offers weary motorists the opportunity to pass slower moving vehicles, as a break from the two-lane sections east and west of Spanish and Bahia Honda Keys. The current bridges opened to traffic in 1972.1

Adjacent to the Overseas Highway along the south is the original Bahia Highway road and railroad bridge. After the destruction of the Florida East Coast Railway due to the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, officials shifted the focus from rebuilding the line to constructing an overseas highway. The state purchased the railroad right-of-way for the new road, and in some cases utilized existing infrastructure to accommodate the new road. At Bahia Honda, this is the case.

Since the existing truss bridge over the Bahia Honda Channel was too narrow to support vehicular traffic, contractors instead opted to build a road deck on top of the existing street structure. The result was an odd truss bridge with an abandoned railroad line below and a narrow two-lane concrete deck above. The original Overseas Highway opened to traffic on July 4, 1938.1

U.S. 1 Bahia Honda twin bridges
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Viewing the 1972-built Bahia Honda Bridges from the original Overseas Highway alignment to the south along the eastern shore of Spanish Harbor Keys. Photos taken 05/07/06.
Overseas Highway Bahia Honda Bridge
Walking along the old Overseas Highway alignment from the south. There is not much left of it here, other than a dirt trail and scrub brush overlaying the original road bed. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A short stub of concrete remains at the west end of the severed Bahia Honda Bridge. A cut in the span was made between the western abutment and the truss bridge. This prevents access to the bridge, but also allows unrestricted passagefor vessels below. Photo taken 05/07/06.
The edge of the railroad truss and concrete road deck at the west end of the Bahia Honda Bridge. Concrete fragments from the crumbling guard rail covers the original two-lane roadway. Paint striping, albeit faded, remained on the road as well. Photo taken 05/07/06.
Turning around, the view looking west at the barricade between the original Overseas Highway concrete stub and approach. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A lone palm tree sways in the breeze south of the abandoned Bahia Honda Bridge. 90 miles separate the Florida Keys from the island country of Cuba. Photo taken 05/07/06.
Walking along the Bahia Honda Channel seawall, the side profile of the bridge comes into view. The railroad truss rises 65 feet on the approach to Bahia Honda Key.1 Photo taken 05/07/06.
Looking south again at the cut in the Bahia Honda Bridge and western approach. Water flowing between the keys separates the Florida Straits from Florida Bay. Photo taken 05/07/06.
A closer look at the Bahia Honda Bridge truss work and overall span. Photo taken 05/07/06.

  1. History Of Overseas Highway, Florida Keys History Museum.

Photo Credits:

05/07/06 by AARoads and Justin Cozart

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Page Updated 07-02-2014.