50 years ago: 1st part of I-95 in Palm Beach County opens

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Western Palm Beach County - - School News - Eliot Klein­berg Post Time ek­lein­berg@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @eliotkpbp

WEST PALM BEACH — Read­ers: Think of a time be­fore In­ter­state 95.

It was only 50 years ago, on Dec. 14, 1966, that even the first por­tion in Palm Beach County opened.

While the in­ter­state high­way sys­tem was in­au­gu­rated in June 1956, it would be a decade be­fore that first Palm Beach County seg­ment opened. And while I-95 now runs 1,919 miles, the ini­tial lo­cal part went all of 3.6 miles, from 45th Street to Okee­chobee Boule­vard in West Palm Beach.

It nev­er­the­less repre- sented “a years-long bat­tle against the forces of in­er­tia, ob­struc­tion­ism and po­lit­i­cal dou­ble-deal­ing,” a Dec. 14 Palm Beach Post editorial said. “Al­most ev­ery de­vice and ex­cuse in the book was used to de­lay con­struc­tion.”

The lit­tle piece of I-95 would get no com­pany for three years un­til it was ex­tended north to Palm Beach Gar­dens in 1969.

Ex­pan­sion con­tin­ued piece­meal.

The part from Pom­pano Beach to Boca Ra­ton opened in Novem­ber 1973. It was De­cem­ber 1975 be­fore por­tions were com­pleted be­tween Lake Worth and Hy­poluxo and be­tween Boyn­ton Beach and Mi­ami. (A bizarre aside: Boca High’s sta­dium was in the way, so in 1973, the feds moved it east.)

On July 3, 1976, the day be­fore Amer­ica’s Bicentennial, the ex­press­way was com­plete be­tween Palm Beach Gar­dens and Mi­ami.

But the 29.7-mile stretch be­tween Gar­dens and Fort Pierce stayed on draw- ing boards for more than 13 years. Many a long­time mo­torist re­calls hav­ing to get off on PGA Boule­vard and pay the turn­pike toll — or worse. crawl up U.S. 1.

The de­lay? Mostly be­cause few could agree on where the ex­press­way 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, from Maine to Mi­ami, had been filled.

Sub­mit your ques­tions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie High­way, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. In­clude your full name and home­town. Call 561-820-4418. Sorry; no per­sonal replies.

PALM BEACH POST AR­CHIVES

Palm Beach and Broward county of­fi­cials gath­ered in Novem­ber 1973 at the Hills­boro Canal bridge (the di­vid­ing line be­tween the two coun­ties) to cut the rib­bon for the open­ing of a 9-mile stretch of In­ter­state 95 be­tween Boca Ra­ton and Pom­pano Beach.

WALKER PHOTO BY C.J.

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.

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