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

Florida Road Memories Of The 80's

10/29/16: I frequently visit the Southeast Roads/Florida forum at Aaroads.com and am getting the impression that some members are visiting my blog, reading my Florida roads posts, then going back to the forum siphoning off of my knowledge and writing posts. If you're one of those members reading this paragraph, you need to be very careful and don't use any of my own work without my permission when writing your posts. My blog posts here are copyrighted. If you want to use anything of what I've written, contact me with the email address I've provided at the top right hand side of this page. I have no desire to join your forum at Aaroads.com. There are some members there that have gotten on my bad side, and I don't want anything to do with it. Like I said earlier, I frequently visit the forum. If I see anything of mine there that you've posted without my permission, I will contact the forum administrator to get the pics/posts removed along with possible legal action against the poster.

Updated 3/11/18!

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:

ZEPHYRHILLS (my home) IN THE 80'S:
-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. It was upgraded back to a state road around 1990.
-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. Highway 54 (5th Ave.) used to go straight across Gall Blvd 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. Back then, the road that is currently Alt 35 curved and went east following current C.R. 54's alignment and met with current Old Dade City Road.  Old Dade City Road was the only 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.  Click on the image to see this old alignment:

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. (see the paragraph below about S.R. 23 in Crystal Springs.) 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 just north of 12th Ave. 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.
-S.R. 23 leaving Zephyrhills going south used to run along Old Crystal Springs Rd. (west of present day U.S. 301 north of Chancey Rd.,) then along Crystal Springs Rd. to present day Central Avenue. It then headed east through the Crystal Springs community then turned south where S.R. 39 presently runs and went to Plant City. The present day Crystal Springs Rd. bridge over the Hillsborough River was built for S.R. 23 in the 1920's. That bridge is almost 100 years old!
 Continuing my highway memories of the 80'S...
-A C-530 keys shield used to be 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.
-The I-75 rest area in Wesley Chapel used to be barren and pavement-only in the 80's. There were no facilities, whatsoever.

-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. You can still see the raised railroad bed on the north side of Morningside Drive just east of Wal-mart.
-7th Street was signed U.S. 98/301. On Meridian Avenue, I remember the yellow 301 and black 98 signs at 7th St. I also remember the green overhead signs at the "Bypass/7th St. split." One sign said 98/301 TRUCK ROUTE, and the other said "BUSINESS 98/301 DOWNTOWN." 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-Pasco 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.)
-Around 2000, when U.S. 98/301 was decomissioned from 7th Street, 7th Street was briefly signed State Road 39 afterwards.
-West of Ridge Manor on U.S. 98/S.R. 50 at Croom Rital Rd., there used to be an overpass where 98/50 went over a railroad track. The track is long abandoned and is now the Withlacoochee State Trail. The overpass is the reason why Croom Rital Rd. has a curved approach to the intersection. When the overpass was built, Croom Rital, since it ran parallel to the railroad, had to be curved so that it could intersect with 98/50 at grade-level past the bridge.

-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.
-Armenia Avenue used to be signed as State Road 587A
-Bearss Avenue used to dead-end at Nebraska Avenue, and the portion of current Bearss Avenue from Skipper Road to Bruce B. Downs Blvd. used to all be Skipper Road.
-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."
-I remember as a child in the early 80's that I-75 used to end at the Pasco-Hillsborough county line. The freeway continued as I-275 past the county line into Tampa. In 1986, I-75 was extended from the county line, ran east of Tampa, and was completed in segments until it eventually reached Alligator Alley in South Florida. Long before the 80's, however, I-75 used to go all the way into downtown Tampa, and it ended at I-4 (back then I-4 used to go all the way to St. Petersburg before I-275 was commissioned.) The Livingston Avenue bridge over I-275 is engraved with "Interstate Route 75" by the bridge rails. I suspect the part of the freeway south of the county line was changed to I-275 when plans were made to extend I-75 to South Florida.

-In Belleview, State Road 25 from 27/301/441 to S.R. 35 used to be a county road. I remember seeing State Road 25 shields patched with "C" and "COUNTY" stickers at the intersection with 27/301/441.
-Also in Belleview, there used to be a weigh station in the middle of U.S. 27/301/441 just north of S.E. 110th Street. The dual street lights and extra wide median for it are still there.
-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.
-Highway 326 used to intersect U.S. 301/441 at two different places. S.R. 326 used to end at 301/441 just north of where the current highway crosses. 326 east of 301/441 used to be a county road. The old alignment of S.R. 326 is still there, and it's an active roadway.
-Green directional signs with the communities of Blitchton and Morriston used to be at the old S.R. 326/U.S. 301-441 intersection.
-In the early 80's, I remember seeing a blue pentagon county road 301 sign where NE 160 Ave Rd begins at C.R. 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.

On the subject of Marion County,  I wanted to mention that whenever I travel on U.S. 301 between Belleview and Citra, I get my mental compass directions (North, South, East, and West) mixed up. It starts at the U.S. 301 - U.S. 27/441 intersection in Belleview. It seems that when you turn at that intersection and continue on 301, you're going west. The next occurrence is at the S.R. 200 intersection. Back in the 80's, S.R. 200 had north and south directions instead of the east and west directions it has today. Seeing the "South 200" signs on U.S. 301 gave me the mindset that 301 was going "west." The mindset would continue to the S.R. 40 intersection. It would feel like 40 went north and south. It would happen again at the C.R. 329, C.R. 316, and Millwood Road/N.E. 165th Street intersections. It's kind of weird. It started when I was a boy, and today 40 years later, it still feels like those highways/roads run north and south. I'm curious if other people experience this same issue. I would like to hear from you if you do.

-The East-West Expressway's western terminus used to be at S.R. 50 just west of Kirkman Rd.
-The entire length of Goldenrod Road used to be two-lanes in the 80's and early 90's.
-A yellow U.S. 17 and blue U.S. 92 shield next to the post office on Mills Ave. (S.R. 15) south of E. Colonial Drive (S.R. 50) were not replaced with black and white shields until about 2004!
-The entire length of Avalon Road (from S.R. 438 to U.S. 192) used to be FDOT maintained and signed as S.R. 545.
-S.R. 438 used to be FDOT maintained and signed all the way to Avalon Road in Oakland.
-In Winter Garden, Dillard Street used to be FDOT maintained and signed as S.R. 537 north of S.R. 50.
-Bluford Ave. in Ocoee used to be FDOT maintained and signed S.R. 439 from Colonial Drive to S.R. 437/438. I thought it was neat that S.R. 437, 438, and 439 all intersected at one point.

When I first gained interest in road signs in the 80's, it was, unfortunately, at a time when many counties in the state were replacing their keys shields (patched with C and COUNTY stickers) with the blue pentagon signs. I do remember seeing a bunch of keys shields in Pasco, Hillsborough, and Marion counties around 1980, but they were replaced quickly. I can not remember all of them. The only keys shields I can remember seeing in my youth are the ones for these county roads: 577, 579, and 530 (all in Zephyrhills,) 581 (30th Street in Wesley Chapel,) 598, 585, and 585A (all in Tampa,) 316 and 318 (in Marion County,) and C.R. 45 (Howell Ave. at U.S. 41 north of Brooksville.)  I did, however, see quite a few as an adult in the early 90's including some on C.R. 18 in Bradford and Union Counties while on a road trip in North Florida. Stupid me didn't have a camera, so I couldn't get any pics, unfortunately.

There are some keys shields still standing in the state today. Most are in the Panhandle, with very few in the Peninsula. Here's a couple of them that I recently photographed in Manatee County...

Keys shields photographed on 3/11/18
Go to this site to see many more keys shields (some may still be standing today!)
Alps Roads


-Can you believe the speed limit on I-75 used to be 55 mph in the early 80's!

-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 goes under now. You can also see the old C.R. 475 alignment on Google Streetview. Years ago, due to I-75 being built, 475 was realigned, and it was routed southeast to the current Y intersection with 466. This was likely done so that another bridge would not need to have been built to carry 475 over the interstate. 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 restoration, painting, or replacement plans now in effect.

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 was only two lanes when it was originally built. In 2009, when 27 was widened in that area to six lanes, 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. Click here for an image showing the concrete lanes of "two-lane" U.S. 27 south of the Citrus Tower: https://www.floridamemory.com/fpc/prints/pr01787.jpg
-You can still drive on all this old concrete today (the date of this post) in Tampa (on I-275, Dale Mabry Highway, East Hillsborough Ave., Bayshore Blvd., and 20th, 21st, & 22nd St. near the Port of Tampa); In Titusville on U.S. 1; On U.S. 92 between Deland and Daytona Beach;  In Downtown Deland on S.R. 44 and U.S. 17/92; In Lakeland on U.S. 92/Memorial Blvd.; In Haines City on a brief portion of U.S. 17/92; In Orlando (I-4, East Colonial Drive, Orange Blossom Trail, Mills Avenue south of Colonial, and U.S. 17/92 in and south of Winter Park. Part of Park Avenue in Winter Park is also concrete); Southbound U.S. 441 between C.R. 500A and Apopka (This part of 441 used to be two-laned concrete when it was originally built); In Waldo on westbound S.R. 24 just past U.S. 301 (24 was originally two-lane concrete); In Jacksonville (on Normandy Blvd. east of U.S. 301 and U.S. 17/Roosevelt Blvd. in the southwest part of Jacksonville); In Pensacola on U.S. 29; and others I'm sure I've not mentioned.

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, send me an email. Also, visit the sites in the "My Links" column to see some of the highway signs I enjoyed back then including some good vintage pics on my Flickr page.