T-cell ALL survivor since November 2008. Allogeneic stem cell transplant survivor since June 2010. Leukemia can be successfully treated and cured. I'm proof!
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Florida Road Memories Of The 80's. Leave a Comment

As a boy in the 1980's, I was fascinated with Florida's highways and railroads but even more fascinated with road signs. These included speed limit signs, green city mileage signs, and, of course, highway designation signs (county road, state road, interstate, and the colored U.S. highway signs.) I grew up in the Tampa area, and my grandparents lived near Ocala. Over the years, I have retained vivid memories of signs that stood out to me on road trips and wanted to share some particularly interesting ones. I have yet to find information on the internet about some of what I have written below and hope someone else can enjoy sharing these memories with me. I regret the fact that I was not a photographer back then. If so, I would have a treasure trove of images to put on the net and share. I, most likely, would have had the most popular collection of Florida road pics on the internet.
Now, here are some unique things I remember clearly about all the road trips I went on as a child and teenager:

-A C-579 keys shield was on Morris Bridge Rd south of S.R. 54.
-Around 1985, when S.R. 54 was downgraded to a county road between Land O' Lakes and Zephyrhills, "C" and "COUNTY" stickers were placed on the state road shields.
-New River used to be signed at the bridge that went over it on S.R. 54.
-While on the topic of S.R. 54, not many people know that Hwy. 54 East of Zephyrhills had a different alignment than it does now. 54 (5th Ave.) used to go straight across Gall Blvd and through downtown Zephyrhills. It then turned north on 12th St. and went all the way to present day C.R. 54/Wire Road. There are old concrete State Road Department Right-of-Way markers on 12th St. to prove this. It then turned east to follow its current alignment. At the current intersection with C.R. Alt 54/C.R. 54A, it turned north and followed C.R. Alt 54's current alignment. So C.R. Alt 54 is actually old S.R. 54. It ended at present day C.R. Alt 35 which was the old Dade City/Lakeland Highway. Present day Old Dade City Road was the road to get to Lakeland back then before U.S. 98 was built. You then had to drive through Kathleen and Galloway to get to Lakeland.  Anyway, back to Zephyrhills, Wire Road is actually old State Road 23. This road followed the same alignment as present-day U.S. 301 from Dade City, then it curved southeast at present-day Wire Road and went down to the Hwy 54/12th Street intersection. See this old Pasco County road map: http://ufdcweb1.uflib.ufl.edu/UF00004787/00001/1x?search=railroad+%3dmaps. This is a pre-1940's map, so the numbers are different, but the physical roads are basically the same. Later, State Road 23 was upgraded to U.S. 301 now providing a link from Lacoochee, Dade City, and Zephyrhills to Tampa. South of Zephyrhills, S.R. 23 to Plant City was changed to S.R. 39. Fort King Rd. (S.R. S-41) was the highway that linked Brooksville, Dade City, and Zephyrhills. Approaching Zephyrhills, Fort King Road/S.R. S-41 turned east and continued on to present Daughtery Rd. Even though an old map shows S.R. S-41 going to Wire Road, it was realigned and turned southeast with the railroad tracks and went into downtown Zephyrhills as Gall Blvd./7th St.  Note that up to the early 90's, Fort King Road used to end diagonally with Gall Blvd./U.S. 301. The intersection was decommissioned when 7th St. was turned into a one-way street and connected with Fort King Rd. I've gotten this information from old road maps and my time spent in Zephyrhills in the 80's. If I've gotten any of the details wrong, leave a comment.
-A C-530 keys shield was on Otis Allen Road at Wire Road.
-Near the McDonalds, a two-lane overpass on U.S. 301 used to go over both Fort King Rd. and a decommissioned railroad. The overpass was removed around 1995 when 301 was widened in that area.
-Where Fort King Rd. originally ended at U.S. 301, just north of 12th Ave., there were yellow U.S. 301 shields at the end of Fort King Rd. I remember a green mileage sign at 12th Ave. with Tampa 29 / Sarasota 80 on it.
-On 5th Ave., east of Gall Blvd in the 80's, there was a yellow JCT 301 sign. Most likely, this sign was never taken down when S.R. 54 was decommissioned on this part of 5th Ave. It's gone now.
-A C-581 keys shield was on 30th St. (now Bruce B. Downs Blvd.) at S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel.  This intersection only had a stop sign with a blinking red light,and both roads were two-lane.
-A C-577 keys shield was on C.R. 577/Curly Rd. northbound at S.R. 54, and I remember another keys shield was in St. Joseph just north of St. Joe Rd.

-South of Dade City, a railroad crossed U.S. 98/301 at Morningside Drive for the Evans citrus packing plant. The plant was right behind present-day Walgreens.
-7th Street was signed U.S. 98/301. On Meridian Avenue, I remember the yellow 301 and black 98 signs. Also, Old Lakeland Highway/Dade City Bypass was signed U.S.98. This confused me because I didn't understand why U.S. 98 was split like that. It also confused me seeing a U.S. 301/ U.S. Bus 98 assurance sign on 7th St. just south of Lock St. Click here to view this sign: http://www.aaroads.com/shields/show.php?image=FL19640983
In the early 70's, Meridian Ave. east of 7th St. was signed S-35A, and S.R. 52 ended at 7th St. In two old photographs of a parade I found on the internet, I saw S-35A keys shields on 7th St. and Meridian Ave. Click on these links for the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786943/in/photostream/ . Also this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786111/in/photostream/
-A C-35A keys shield used to be in front of Dick Jarrett Ford right off the Dade City Bypass.
-North of Dade City at the Lykes Citrus Plant, a railroad diagonally crossed U.S. 98/301.
-South of Lacoochee, there were two overpasses on U.S. 98/301, south of the U.S. 98 split, that crossed the Owensboro railroad junction (one railroad in that junction is now the Withlacoochee State Trail.)

-A State Road 585 keys shield used to be on Rowlett Park Dr. south of Waters Ave.
-A C-585A keys shield used to be on McKinley Dr. south of Fowler Ave.
-A C-598 keys shield used to be on Lambright St. just east of Dale Mabry Hwy.
-On I-275 in Tampa, there were big green overhead signs with "Fla" and the state road number on them. For example, for Busch Blvd., the signs had "Fla 580" on them and Fowler Ave. had "Fla 582" on them. The overhead signs at the very left would have "Thru Traffic" on them.
-On westbound Busch Blvd. at North Blvd., there was a green FDOT directional sign with a left arrow and "Fairyland Zoo."

-In Belleview, state road 25 from 27/301/441 to SR 35 used to be a county road in the 80's. I remember seeing State Road 25 shields patched with a "C" and "COUNTY" stickers at the intersection with 27/301/441.
-I remember U.S. OLD 301 and U.S. OLD 441 north of Ocala (now C.R.200A and C.R.25A, respectively) and the yellow OLD 301 and brown OLD 441 signs.
-On U.S. 301/441 north of Ocala, there were rectangular street signs with "SR 25/SR 200" on them at intersections . These signs confused me because I didn't know that in Florida U.S. highways are given a state road designation. Today, some U.S. highways still have state road rectangular street signs. For example, in Chiefland, U.S. Alt 27 is signed SR 500 on a traffic light post, while U.S. 19/98 is signed SR 55.
-In the early 80's, I remember seeing a blue pentagon county road 301 sign where NE 160 Ave Rd begins at CR 316 east of Ft. McCoy. I thought it was funny that there were two different Hwy. 301s in Marion County. Also, how can I forget the big bridge over the Oklawaha River on C.R. 316. One time, after crossing the bridge, my parents had to pull over because I got sick to my stomach. The spelling of Oklawaha is correct for that time period, even though it was recently changed to Ocklawaha.

-In Sumter County on I-75, just north of the Turnpike and S.R. 44 exits, the C.R. 475 overpass used to have a rectangular green sign on the bridge that read "County 466." It was visible when you drove under it on I-75. Years ago, that road actually was C.R. 466, and it ended at C.R. 475 just west of where the interstate crosses now. You can see the old C.R. 475 alignment on Google Streetview. Years ago, due to I-75 being built, 475 was broken up, and it was routed southeast to the current Y intersection with 466. Here's some history of more rectangular signs on I-75 overpasses in Central Florida: 
 -In Pasco County, the Darby Road, St. Joe Road, and Lake Iola Road overpasses used to have "County 578A," "County 578," and "County 577" signs on them, respectively.
-In Sumter County, the C.R. 476 overpass still has the "Fla 476" signs on it. 476 used to be a primary state maintained road from U.S. 301 to the Hernando County line decades ago.
-In Ocala, the bridge that carries I-75 over S.W. 20th St. (between the S.R. 200 and 40 exits) used to be signed "Airport Rd"
-In Marion County north of U.S. 27, the overpass that carries N.W. 100th St. still has the "Martin Rd" signs on it, but they're in bad shape and will be gone soon.
-Also in Marion County, the N.W. 193rd St. overpass used to have "Dungarvin Rd" signs on it.
These classic interstate bridge road signs will not be here much longer due to bridge replacement plans now in effect. Plus, I-75 being widened to six lanes now will only accelerate the disappearance of these signs.

I'll never forget the characteristic "TAP tap TAP tap TAP tap" of the tires on that concrete.
-U.S. 41 south of S.R. 52 used to be paved with concrete up until about 1995 when it was repaved. I bought my first vehicles in 1991 and remembered the concrete highway in front of the auto dealer.
-Southbound U.S. 27 from just north of Washington Street/Old 50 to the S.R. 50 off-ramp in Clermont used to be paved with concrete. The northbound lanes were not concrete because U.S. 27 used to be two lanes when it was originally paved with that concrete. When 27 was widened in 2009, the concrete lanes were removed. Part of U.S. 27 in Leesburg is still paved with concrete but only in two of the four lanes, again proving that 27 used to be a two-lane highway.
-You can still drive on that old concrete today (the date of this post) in Tampa (on I-75, I-275, Dale Mabry Highway, Bayshore Blvd., 22nd St. near the Port of Tampa); U.S. 1 in Titusville ; U.S. 92 between DeLand and Daytona Beach; U.S. 92/Memorial Blvd. in Lakeland; In Orlando (I-4, East Colonial Drive, Orange Blossom Trail, Mills Avenue south of Colonial, and north U.S. 17/92 to Winter Park. Part of Park Avenue in Winter Park is also concrete); On southbound U.S. 441 between S.R. 46 and north of Apopka ; On westbound S.R. 24 just past U.S. 301 in Waldo; and others I'm sure I've forgotten.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed all the colored U.S. highway signs that were up at that time. The only ones I ever saw personally were for U.S. 1, 17, 19, 27, 41, 90, 92, 192, 231, 301, 319, and 441. I only saw a U.S. 129 sign one time, at the intersection with I-75, and I barely could see it because it was night. I never saw any U.S. 29, U.S. 331, U.S. 221, and U.S. 23 signs in person, and I remembered being obsessive about what their colors were.

More "memories" will be posted as they come to mind. If you ever visited or lived in the areas above and would like to share your road memories, please post a comment. Also, visit the sites in the "My Links" column to see some of the highway signs I enjoyed back then.
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