Interstate 595 is the sole east-west expressway in Broward County, from U.S. 1 at Port Everglades to I-75 and the Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869) in the western suburbs.
While there are theoretically two I-595s in the United States, Florida's is the only one that is signed. The other I-595 is in Maryland, assigned to the Interstate-standard portion of U.S. 50 from I-495 in Landover to MD 70 in Annapolis. However, it is not signed, making Florida's I-595 the only true one.
To get a better understanding of the history of I-595, I highly recommend you visit the freeway planning page.
I-595 started out as the Port Expressway, one of four proposed east-west expressways across Broward from the 1969 transportation study. It would have began at a proposed A1A extension at Port Everglades, followed an alignment parallel to SR 84 and the New River Canal. It would eventually meet and become SR 84 at University Drive and continue west with a terminus at the two-lane Alligator Alley, which was non-freeway standard. With this, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale would be directly linked to Naples and the Gulf Coast of Florida with a high speed route.
It was planned to be 6 lanes from U.S. 1 to U.S. 441, and 4 lanes for the remaining sections. It was planned to be funded as a toll road. Proposed interchanges were at:
When the 1969 transportation study was presented to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Broward County, officials eyed the Port Expressway as a major expressway link they wanted to be constructed, since it was centrally located and would link Port Everglades to the west coast of Florida via Alligator Alley.
It wasn't until 1974 that real plans to build the Port Expressway got off the ground. I-75's future trek through South Florida had just been rerouted, into Broward County across an upgraded Alligator Alley and SR 84. About 4½ miles west of U.S. 27, it would make a 90 degree turn and head south into Dade County. With this, the Port Expressway became a crucial link to join I-95 with I-75 and provide a central high speed east-west route across Broward County.
Since the Port Expressway would connect to two Interstates at each end of the county, it seemed logical that this route would be an Interstate highway, rather than just a state highway. It would partly be a spur route from I-95 into Fort Lauderdale, so an x95 number was needed. 195 and 395 were already taken, so the next logical number would be 595. Thus, I-595 was born.
The next step into making I-595 a reality was funding. I-595 was not the only route competing with limited funds, as I-75 and the planned Sawgrass Expressway were also vying for funding. While some Interstate funding had been allocated to FDOT to construct I-595, it would not cover its projected $1.2 billion cost. With that, FDOT strongly considered making the western portion of I-595 a toll route to fund it, as was the original plan. Per FHWA laws and regulations, the toll portion of that route could not be designated as an Interstate.
Despite all of this, a small group of people in Congress who had an interest in the I-595 would turn out to be its saving grace.
Getting it Built
By the time 1980 had rolled around, it was clear that the Port Expressway was going to be built, partly as a toll road and partly as an Interstate. However, there was a vocal opponent of the tolls, Congressman and former Fort Lauderdale mayor Clay Shaw, whose district included Broward County.
As member of Public Works and Transportation committee in Congress, Shaw knew of the traffic problems that plagued his hometown of Broward and began to push for much needed FHWA funding to build I-595 and eliminate the proposed tolls.
In 1983, Shaw spearheaded a bill that would allow states to built roads with Interstate money once designated for repairs, which was helped by fellow Floridian Senator Lawton Chiles (who later became governor). If passed, it would have freed up $150 million to construct I-595 and eliminate the tolls. The bill won Senate approval but the House of Representatives deleted part of the bill in November. Nonetheless, Shaw and Chiles still expected to win federal funding for the road.
In February 1984, another bill was presented that would fund I-595 through a loophole. The bill classified the toll section of the proposed Interstate as a "reconstruction" of SR 84, which was already designated as I-75. The bill passed through both the Senate and the House in early March, with the much needed help from Shaw.
On March 2, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) freed up $21 million to finance part of I-595 near the Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Then, on March 11, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to pay for the unfunded sections of I-595. The fears that I-595 would be a toll road vanished. FDOT engineers immediately deleted toll booths from the design plans.
On May 25, the Senate passed another bill allowing Florida to borrow against anticipated federal highway construction money. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jim Scott from Fort Lauderdale, would shave off 18 months of I-595's construction time by eliminating inflation.
After that, design plans were finalized for I-595. It was similar to the original plan from 1969, but a modified alignment was chosen between I-95 and University Drive, where it would run directly side-by-side with SR 84 and the New River Canal on a slightly more northern track. SR 84 would remain an independent road until Florida's Turnpike, where flyover ramps would "piggyback" it onto I-595 until Davie Road. From Davie Road to Alligator Alley, SR 84 would become a set of one way frontage roads to the Interstate, with turnarounds at interchanges providing non-stop U-turns for motorists.
I-595's eastern terminus was also changed, as A1A was not extended through Port Everglades as proposed, but instead rerouted to multiplex with U.S. 1 about a mile west, thus pushing its terminus back to that point.
It would be built mostly as 8 lanes, with 6 general-use and 2 auxiliary lanes. There would be an elevated section between I-95 and U.S. 441 where it would traverse the Pond Apple Slough, a wetland preserve. Today the slough is dying, but due to natural causes.
Most of its interchanges would be diamonds, except at I-95, U.S. 441, Florida's Turnpike, and I-75/Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869), which would be major freeway-freeway interchanges. At University Drive, there would be dual flyovers to provide non-stop NB-WB and SB-EB connections in addition to the diamond ramps.
Since I-595 and I-75 would take over most of SR 84, its designation was truncated and divided into two sections; the eastern section from U.S. 1 to I-75 in west Broward, and the western segment in Collier County from CR 951 to U.S. 41.
Built At Last
At last, construction started on the long anticipated freeway. On July 26, 1984, Governor Bob Graham and other state politicians held a gala groundbreaking for I-595, and construction started later that day for the projected $1.2 billion Interstate. It would be the most expensive road in Florida history.
In April 1987, construction started on the massive interchange with I-75 and the Sawgrass Expressway. In May 1988, the first 2.3 mile section of I-595 opened, from Hiatus Road to I-75. On February 24, 1989, a second 5.3 mile section opened from between U.S. 1 and Florida's Turnpike.
Finally, on October 21, 1989, the entire section of I-595, 12.8 miles between I-75 and U.S. 1, opened with a ribbon cutting, 6 mile parade, and opening day events. However, the major interchanges at I-95, Florida's Turnpike, and I-75/Sawgrass Expressway were not complete yet, and would not be until 1991. At any rate, the gap between eastern and western Broward County was now bridged by a new high speed Interstate.
I-595 wasn't officially approved as an Interstate until June 11, 1990. Aside from the Interstate designation, I-595 was also given the secret SR 862 designation, despite the road virtually taking over SR 84.
On a rather interesting note, the Miami Herald conducted a contest in 1990 where people submitted names for the massive I-595/I-95 interchange that was then under construction. The winning name for the interchange was the "Lauderloop", which is really ambiguous since the interchange contains no loop ramps; it is a four level stack. However, it was just a short-lived gag as people have never referred to the interchange as that. Unlike other states, Floridians do not tend to name their interchanges, making the contest all the more interesting. That interchange was officially completed and fully opened to traffic on March 22, 1991 at the cost of $121 million.
Upon its completion, I-595 has remained virtually unchanged. The only change to date is the increase of its speed limit from 55 to 65 mph in April 2004.
When I-595 opened, it operated at projected traffic volumes. But as west Broward rapidly grew, more and more people have been using I-595 to commute to work. Thus, eastbound I-595 is a parking a lot anywhere from 7:00-10:00 in the morning, and westbound from 4:00-7:00 in the evening.
Rush hour aside, I-595 is operating at traffic levels it was not designed to handle, putting an increasing strain on the road. From I-95 to I-75, I-595 carries at least 130,000 vehicles daily, with up to 180,000 between Florida's Turnpike and University Drive. This is all because I-595 is the only high-speed route across the county. Realistically, Broward could be better served by additional east-west expressways such as the ones proposed in the 1969 transportation study, but they cannot be built today due to urbanization and costs.
With this, there are some plans to upgrade I-595. There has been talk of adding reversible lanes in the median, as well as light rail. A link to the Moving Broward Collaborative provides some information about plans for I-595. For the meantime, I-595 will remain in its original condition.
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