I generally don't drive Highway One between Homestead and Key Largo preferring the bucolic pleasures of Card Sound Road, less traffic more woods and if you need a cheesy introduction to Florida Keys tourist imagery you can stop at Alabama Jack's for some not too bad Conch Fritters, which are basically hush puppies with rubbery bits of seafood scattered in them.
These days if you come in to the Keys on Card Sound Road you are missing more than a mile of elevated driving into Key Largo at Mile Marker 108.
They spent something north of $260 million re-doing The Stretch and they haven't quite finished it yet. Some dude living nearby suggested they paint the median barrier a nice shade of turquoise which everyone resisted. But it seems he insisted a lot and finally they said why not? The result is as you see it and I like it.
The thing about the re-do of The Stretch, all 18 miles of it, is that they didn't rebuild it in four lanes which was an option. There are a couple of passing lanes but in winter especially when you get a few slow pokes holding up the caravan some people get rather impatient, so be warned, that's when you want to use Card Sound Road. Or you can get stuck at 42 miles per hour on the Turquoise Road.
The reason for the two lane new road was hurricane evacuations. Yup, hurricanes! You know how they say the Keys live south of reality...The story is that the state requires the Keys to be able to evacuate residents in the event of a storm approaching within certain limits, twenty four hours I think. The idea was that if they made the stretch four lanes wide more people could be evacuated faster and more development would follow as night follows day. So they made the northbound shoulder wide enough to take traffic in an evacuation and we residents got stuck with a two lane stretch for normal use. Well, bugger.
If you see impatient people passing slow traffic using the special turn lanes you now know to blame hurricane evacuations. So there.
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