Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys
Seven Mile Bridge
O. K., the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys is actually only 6.79 miles long, but it is still an important piece of the Florida landscape. The original bridge was a railway that was destroyed in hurricane in 1935, and was reconstructed to accommodate automobile traffic.
Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Matrek
Creative Commons Photo Courtesy: Sulekha/Raja Ramchandra
History and Construction
Actually, there are two bridges in this location. The older bridge was constructed from 1909-1912 under the direction of Henry Flagler as part of the Florida East Coast Railway's Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad.
The old bridge was badly damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and later refurbished by the United States Government as an automobile highway bridge. It had a swing span that opened to allow passage of boat traffic, near where the bridge crosses Pigeon Key, a small island where a work camp for Flagler's railroad was located. Hurricane Donna in 1960 caused further damage.
Today's road bridge was constructed from 1948 to 1982. Almost all of the original bridge still exists, used as fishing piers and access to Pigeon Key, but the swing span over the Moser Channel has been removed.
The new bridge is a box-girder structure built from precast, concrete sections, making up 440 spans. Near the center, the bridge rises in an arc to provide 65-foot high clearance for boat passage. The rest of the bridge is considerably closer to the water surface. The new bridge does not cross Pigeon Key.
The total length of the new bridge is actually 6.79 miles, which is just slightly shorter than Flagler's original railway bridge.
Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikiedia/Phil Hollman
The historic bridge has attracted many film makers. Movie scenes include; True Lies, 2 Fast 2 Furious, the James Bond film Licence to Kill, CrissCross, and Up Close & Personal. In True Lies, filmed in the early 1990s, a section of the old bridge is shown being destroyed by missile strikes. The missiles were edited in, and the explosions were done on an 80-foot model of the bridge, but filming was indeed done on the actual bridge, and the "destroyed" section is the former swing span, which had been removed upon completion of the new bridge.
Every 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 mark 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.
Public domain photo courtesy USA.gov
Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia/Lightenoughtotravel