Alligator Alley

Alligator Alley Max LaGaipa from Canada to Fl EvergladesBecause of the vast amounts of water located along Alligator Alley it has produced some of the best bass fishing the state has seen. You can read below how a lot of these fisheries came to existence. These areas are low pressure fishing areas and most of it has no access other then by bass boat or airboat. It is not uncommon to catch 100 plus fish in a day at some of these location when using a fishing guide along Alligator Alley. The fishing mainly changes by water levels that are changed frequently by South Florida Water Management. You can catch anything from largemouth bass, peacock bass in some locations to Oscars, redear, bluegill and other pan-fish. Oh…by the way did we mention it also a great night fishing location.

Alligator Alley (I-75) is one of the major east-west highways that cross South Florida. Driving east to west along Alligator Alley, one travels through the populated Naples area with its manicured golf courses, the wilderness of Big Cypress Swamp and the sawgrass marshes of Water Conservation Area 3. Which extents to eastern Ft Lauderdale.

Along the Alligator Alley you may see wading birds in flight and at rest, and yes, alligators, can also be seen along the canal banks adjacent to the highway. Take the time, step out fromAlligator Alley Gator behind the vehicle window and see some of the alligators and sawgrass marshes that are found along Alligator Alley.
The marsh of Water Conservation Area 3 leaving Ft Lauderdale, driving to Naples seems east -west, which it is. But because I-75 starts down in Miami from the south and ends heading north near Ocala it is considered north and south bound when crossing Alligator Alley.

Heading north on I-75 Alligator Alley, from Ft Lauderdale there are many recreation areas along the way. Which can seen on the Google map located below. Looking north or south at the flooded marshes of Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3). Coots are swimming along the dense plants, a vast sawgrass expanse of Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3). Sawgrass is the most abundant plant in the Everglades’ “River of Grass”. It grows 100 miles north and south from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico and 50 – 70 miles east to west.

A newly built recreation area along I-75(Alligator Alley), located about mile marker 35, provides viewing areas of the marshland that makes up Water Conservation Area 3 and is one of the only location with restroom facilities, snack machines and boat ramps. Although there is “no fuel” at this location, there picnic areas with pavilions that make the journey along the Alligator Alley much more enjoyable.

Kids love catching Everglades bass, while fishing with our Florida guidesHere many plants prospers in the marsh. WCA-3 receives agricultural runoff so much of the native sawgrass marsh has been replaced by cattails that prosper in nutrient-enriched waters.

Look closely to see the duck-like coot swimming among the spatterdocks (yellow cow lilies). American coots are mainly gray and have a short, thick beak. They are commonly seen in open ponds and marshes and in saltwater bays and inlets. Foods coots may eat include aquatic plants, fish, mollusks and insects.

Alligator Alley was originally built as a toll two-lane freeway connecting the two coasts of Florida, and has become very active recreation area that was later connected to Interstate 75 as an east-west continuation of the highway. It is still a toll road, with automobile drivers started paying $2.50 and now is as high as $7.50 with a boat a tow.. Before the completion of its re-engineering, Alligator Alley was signed as State Road 84; it is now I-75, but it still has a concurrency with SR 84 designation was made concurrent with the I-75 designation, I-75 and SR 84 split again in Naples.

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Detailed history of Alligator Alley

Florida’s Most Controversial Highway, Alligator Alley the road of controversy. Importantly connects the lower east and west coasts of Florida via Broward and Collier Counties. Arrow-straight for most of its length, it crosses for the first time the heart of what was an impenetrable wilderness, the Florida Everglades. It is the link between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. The Tamiami Trail and the former Connor’s Highway skirt the northeast and southwest Everglades.

Alligator Alley is a remarkable achievement and adventure in road building. Its original official title was The Everglades Parkway. It was also known as the Fort Lauderdale-Naples toll road, but for those who worked for it and wanted it, who fought and overcame powerful opposition, it will always be alligator alley.
The need for such a road and the possibility of its construction have been talked about for years. Even in the declining years of the great Florida Land Boom of the 1920′s, a cross-state route was proposed. An everglades pioneer, Guy W. Stovall, who spent years with the Florida Road Department, long agitated for such a road.

From Alligator Alley inception, the Seminole Indians, grown knowledgeable in the ways of commerce, supported its completion. They adopted on April 6. 1959, a resolution of approval stating that the road would be valuable in establishing business in the Big Cypress. The resolution indicated the Council’s willingness to give right-of-way across its Reservation. Signing it were Betty May Jumper, vice chairman, and Laura Mae Osceola, secretary and treasurer

When opposition developed Alligator Alley in the 1960′s, and suits were brought to stop construction, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Incorporated, and Bill and Billy Osceola, as individuals, intervened in the chancery case before Judge May Walker of Leon County, and in the case before the Florida Supreme Court. They urged confirmation of the construction bonds.
Important to the road’s ultimate construction was the appointment by Gov. Farris Bryant of John H. Monahan of Fort Lauderdale as South Florida’s member on the Governing Board of the State Highway Department beginning January 1960. Monahan recognized the need for the cross-state road. He was a leader in the Alley’s construction.

In 1961 the Boards of Collier and Broward Counties pledged the use of their secondary gasoline tax funds to guarantee the construction bonds. In a joint session January 1, 1962, the county Boards of Collier County and Broward County agreed to appropriate $30,000 for the feasibility study by Wilbur Smith and Associates. Collier Commissioner Winfred Jaynes, was a driving force. Most of the terrain to be traversed had never been given a detailed topographic survey. There was no information available to provide for reliable construction estimates.

Four fully equipped survey crews were engaged for five months on location in this most difficult terrain. Where possible, the most modern of survey methods and equipment were used. These included measurement of long distances by electronic means and the use of amphibious vehicles, helicopters, air boats, and two-way radio. To expedite the work, survey crews camped in the Everglades and cypress swamps for weeks at a time. Unusually dry conditions in the ‘Glades facilitated work on the feasibility study.

Wilbur Smith was employed February 28, 1962, for the traffic and revenue report. On August 30, the same year, J. E. Greiner was chosen to prepare an engineering report. The preliminary soil survey for Greiner was conducted by the McLaughlin Engineering Company of Fort Lauderdale, with J. W. McLaughlin, Jr. in personal charge.
A helicopter flew a compass course and dropped markers every half mile from Andytown to Miles City east of Naples, and also landed engineers. McLaughlin used a stop watch to time his marker drops. At each marked site they probed to determine the quality of the soil, the surface rock, the muck and other materials available.

Next came the Florida Testing and Engineering Company. On a unique 32-day trip across the Everglades it made structural borings and a soil profile for the proposed highway. In April 1963, James V. Winterholler, Jr., P.E., President of the company, entered the Everglades at Andytown. Winterholler’s party consisted of five of his own men, a Greiner inspector, and a cook and guide from Immokolee. Boring equipment was loaded on airboats. Winterholler carried maps prepared by Greiner indicating where the borings were to be made.

From Andytown to almost the western Broward County line the airboats worked satisfactorily. But when the cypress country was reached, it was necessary to switch to large swamp buggies equipped with huge airplane tires. These were brought down through the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. This was the first such survey made across the Everglades, and the first time a drill crew ever made actual borings directly across the Everglades.

In May of 1963 the J. E. Greiner Co. Of Tampa, brought in its report, stating, “The proposed project is feasible in its civil engineering and construction aspects.”Hopes soared when the Circuit Court approved issuance of $17,000,000 in bonds. The Supreme Court approved validation of the bonds in mid-may 1964. It was to connect the easterly limits of State Route 858, six miles east of Naples, with the intersection of U.S. Route 84 at Andytown, 18 miles west of Fort Lauderdale.Initially two lanes were proposed but engineering studies and preliminary designs provided for the ultimate construction of a four-lane divided highway. In Collier County and the western portion of Broward County a borrow canal was opened parallel to and north of the roadway. In most of Broward County, were large areas of muck or material unsuited for roadway construction exist, borrow canals were excavated on both sides of the future fourlane facility. In Collier county, other than at existing or proposed canals concrete box culverts handle natural drainage.
Formidable, almost overwhelming, opposition developed even before the project got off the ground. Anticipated opposition from big Dade County, due to lose some initial traffic to the road, was supplemented by state-wide political candidates seeking favor of the heavy Dade County vote, and by others who honestly thought the project impossible or impracticable.

The AAA thought up the name of Alligator Alley to express supreme contempt for a road which it said was “designed with a flagrant disregard for essential safety; that didn’t to where its proponents said it would go; and that charged a toll besides.”

The AAA plan to route its membership away from the road was announced in mid-August 1966. It’s director of public relations said the organization opposed toll roads and fought construction of the Alley since it was first conceived. The AAA joined the then Miami Mayor, Robert King High, and the City of Miami, in efforts to block the road, going all the way to the Supreme Court. But the effort was of no avail. The Alligator Alley argument set city against city. It became a factor in politics. In the state election, some gubernatorial and other candidates sought to get on the opposition bandwagon for publicity purposes, and to attract the Dade County vote. The argument for and against, and the hard-feelings engendered among some of the then-controlling Democratic office holders and office seekers contributed in part to the election of Florida’s first Republican governor since the days of Reconstruction.

Alligator Alley is the most controversial road ever built in Florida. Never in Florida history had so many favored building a road, nor so many battled to prevent its construction, reported the Associated Press.
The City of Miami fought it bitterly. Tampa, St. Petersburg and other more northern west coast metropolitan areas wanted the existing Tamiami Trail widened and improved. Newspapers of other communities, most of which already had their own east coast – west coast connecting highways opposed.
The AAA went so far as to issue a special Anti-Alligator Alley tabloid newspaper in which it reprinted much of the acrimonious argument denigrating the route. In it, it quoted the Miami News: “Appropriate tag for Everglades Expressway, after Road Board’s approving action: ‘Chickee Quickee’.”

A Miami News cartoon had a cross-eyed Road Runner labeled “the State Road Department,” standing by its offspring, an odorous little skunk hatching out of an egg — labeled “‘Glades Parkway Road Plan.”
“The State Road Department’s OK of the Pike,” the AAA charged, “swamps public opinion.” The paper continued: “the national AAA joins swamp pike fight.” Under a Toronto, Canada, dateline: “The proposed two-lane toll road across the wilderness of Florida’s Everglades came under sizzling condemnation here (Toronto) at the Annual convention of the AAA and its affiliate, the Canadian Association. The National Convention condemned the pledging of state gasoline tax revenues paid by highway users to guarantee payment of principal and interest on toll road bonds.”

The Everglades road was dubbed: “Spurnpike,” “Shunpike,” “Narrow Gauge Tollway” and “Death Row.”
It reprinted Florida newspaper headlines: St Petersburg Times: “A Bond Risk We Can’t Take;” Bradenton Call: “Expensive Drag Strip;” Manatee County Call: “That Turnpike Again;” Miami Herald: “A Few Curves in the Spurnpike;” Tampa Tribune: “Slow Down That Railroad;” Miami Daily News: “What’s Going On In Tallahassee? Time to Bury Swamp Pike;” St. Petersburg Times: “Where’s Bonding Protection?” The Sarasota Herald Tribune: “Alligator Alley!” and the Fort Lauderdale News: “Model T Type Road.”
In 1968 the Seminole Tribe of Florida, in recognition of his forty-five years as a friend of the Indians, gave Guy Stovall the title Chief Halpatah. . . Chief Allegator. O. E. “Sonny” White, project engineer and a veteran State Road Department man, said the fifty or more men who worked on the difficult Alley construction did so by their own choice.
Hurricane and other high winds three times tipped over the two 45 foot steel towers set up so that the engineers could keep a straight line through a sixteen mile tangent.

The Alligator Alley project began work on the first twenty-seven mile stretch on November 2, 1964. Cone Brothers contracted for the east portion for $5,500,000. R. H. Wright, Fort Lauderdale, was awarded the contract for a ten-mile portion from Naples eastward for $1,375,000. To build any section required super-equipment and frequently, supermen.

The solid crushed limerock base was scooped from below the muck and waterways of the adjacent canal. Big scale demucking and embankment building required many, many workers. This work was truly a modern-day miracle…over a route where no white man ever ventured before. The road proper was actually started when hugh draglines, walking on special mats, inched their way out into the sawgrass to strip off the muck. Barges carrying dynamite drills floated in behind these draglines to blast out the lime rock of the ‘Glades floor. Other dredges cast the dynamited material out of the canal.

The rock was crushed from Alligator Alley, placed on the
roadbed, stabilized to form a compact base eight and a half inches thick, and then a binder material was placed on the road. Finally the surface material on which traffic rolls was placed.
Hazards of the road building were summed up by an anonymous construction worker. He wrote this prayer in an “Alley” out building:
“Please Lord, I’ve been a good man. So if I get cotton-mouth bit, or attacked by some of Oscar the Alligator’s brothers, and if I get to that Big Job in the Sky, oh, please, Lord, let it be on dry land. Amen!”
Alligator Alley, the name the American Automobile Association used for the road, became official on August 19, 1966, when the State Road Board, meeting in Naples, adopted it. “Alley’s a good name,” said County Commission Chairman A. C. Hancock. “It’ll attract tourists.”
Controversy over the building of Alligator Alley began abating in the spring of 1966. The state, from the beginning, had ample right-of-way for four-laning as soon as traffic warranted. The highway surface was 24 feet, wider than either U.S. 27 or State Road 84, both originally only 20 feet wide. The highway was twelve feet above sea level and seven feet higher than the adjacent water of the ‘Glades. Motorists, particularly those crossing the state in early morning or late afternoon hours in winter and spring months, see a wide variety of bird and animal life. Bridges every mile or two add to the scenic route and permit uninterrupted natural flow of Everglades water southward from Lake Okeechobee. The western terminus is at the interchange of Radio Road, five miles from Naples and its beaches, shops, and hotels on the Gulf of Mexico.

Important Links;
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Naples.net History

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