The main north-south interstate highway corridor in Florida is Interstate 95, which runs almost the entire north-south length of the eastern mainland of the state, starting at the border of Georgia and heading south to the southern Miami area.
I95 comes in at a total length of 382 miles – the estimated driving time is approximately 5 hours and 23 minutes – with the longest portion of the roadway running through Florida; the final 87 miles that terminates at U.S. Route 1 near 32nd Road and the Vizcaya Metrorail Station in Miami is known as the Miami Memorial Metropolitan Expressway.
Much of I95 traverses through what is known as the Treasure Coast region of Florida, which runs along the state’s east coast, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and comprising Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties.
There are two strategically placed Park and Ride Lots in the Treasure Coast area; one in St Lucie County and another in Martin County; both are away from heavy congestion to serve local fixed transit routes, express buses, carpoolers, and vanpoolers.
The Treasure Coast derives its name from the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, which sank in a hurricane near the Sebastian Inlet. Salvagers began recovering treasure from the sunken fleet off the coast of Florida in 1961 – a story that attracted international attention – at which time the Treasure Coast name was bestowed upon the region in articles penned by Vero Beach Press Journal newspaper reporters John J. Schumann Jr. and Harry J. Schultz.
The Treasure Coast name soon resonated and caught on with the general community, as the coastline had previously not been named and residents sought to distinguish themselves from the Gold Coast to the south, which encompasses Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The Treasure Coast includes two metropolitan statistical areas used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and other agencies, including the Port St. Lucie, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area – comprised of Martin and St. Lucie counties – and the Sebastian-Vero Beach Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is made up of Sebastian and Vero Beach. Only one city on the Treasure Coast has a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants, which is Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County.
I95 provides a fast and easy way to traverse Florida’s east coast and access to the many cities and tourist attractions that are along the Treasure Coast and beyond, with locations such as Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, and Miami easily accessible, with various exit and off-ramps allowing travel to many of the coast’s smaller cities as well.
Popular attractions accessible from I95 include; Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Biketoberfest, Daytona 500, Daytona Bike Week, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, NASCAR Events, Kennedy Space Center, Spring Break, Florida Keys, the Everglades, and many others.
There are four strategically placed Park and Ride Lots in the South Florida area which are also away from heavy congestion to serve local fixed transit routes, express buses, carpoolers, and vanpoolers. Two in Palm Beach County and Broward County and two for North Miami Dade and South Miami Dade.
The first section of I95 that was opened to the public following initial construction was in Jacksonville in 1960, with an additional section just north of Miami opening in 1960. Additional construction continued in the early 1960s, focusing on the area between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach; by the end of the decade, the highway stretched from Interstate 4 in Daytona Beach to U.S. 17, just south of the Georgia state line.
By 1976, the majority of the overall work on I95 was completed, aside from the so-called “missing link” to the Treasure Coast; this 30-mile stretch of roadway – traveling through Martin and Palm Beach counties about 75 miles north of Miami – would eventually be completed and opened to the public in 1987, sparking population growth within the previously-undeveloped Martin and St. Lucie counties
Previously, the missing Treasure Coast I95 link – which makes it possible for I95 drivers to go from Houlton, Maine to Miami – was held up for years due to construction and environmental concerns; the project went through a major redesign at one point, with the link’s pathway being changed significantly to appease the concerns of protestors who felt its original layout would have been harmful to the environment and the lifestyles of local residents.
There is a single Park & Ride Lot for Monroe County on Grinnell Street in Key West which serves as the Southern most point of the state for carpoolers and vanpoolers.
Upon the missing link’s completion and opening, numerous developers immediately began submitting plans for industrial and commercial projects, including a shopping mall, high-rise office buildings, restaurants, marinas and residential suburbs.
In addition, the opening of the Treasure Coast link on I95 – with development costing $220 million – served to cut down on traffic congestion on the roadway, which had previously been considered a major problem.