The Florida Keys bridge system connects the islands together and links them to the mainland. It takes about four hours to make the trip from Miami to Key West when traveling along the Overseas Highway. The southern leg of U.S. Highway 1 follows much the same route blazed by Henry Flager, the architect of modern Florida and his famed railroad. A century later, highways have become the chosen way to travel, but they’re no less an engineering marvel than the mighty railroad that opened up the Keys to tourism. Today, more than 40 bridges connect islands throughout the Keys, and nearly 20 miles of the 120-mile route of the Overseas Highway is actually made up of bridges. Each of these bridges is an engineering marvel, carrying the Overseas Highway traffic to its chosen destination—whether folks are heading to a snorkeling adventure based in Key Largo, a laid-back trip to quirky Key West, or one of the islands in between.
Since the Overseas Highway was built a century ago, many bridges have been built and rebuilt to connect the major Keys and its most popular places. Today’s bridges are modern, safe, and efficient way to drive across the Keys. Some of the older bridges that were replaced and closed to traffic have been turned into fishing piers throughout the Keys. While there are several modern bridges connecting the Keys, many people mean the Seven Mile Bridge when talking about a Florida Keys bridge. The highway stretches a smidge under seven miles, 6.79 miles to be exact, connecting Marathon Key to Little Duck Key. Built from concrete with steel girders, the current bridge dates from 1982, replacing one of the railroad’s original bridges. This long span has become one of the most iconic scenes of Florida, only an hour from Key West, one of Florida’s favorite destinations.