Friday, February 11, 2011

Florida History: Fort Lauderdale's Henry E Kinney Tunnel only one in state?

Henry E Kinney Tunnel
Federal Highway (U.S. 1) and the New River in Fort Lauderdale

By Jane Feehan     

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A bridge carrying U.S  1 over Fort Lauderdale’s New River opened in August, 1926. As the city grew so did its traffic. At times it took as long as 45 minutes to get from one side of the bridge to the other, causing backups along U.S. 1 and into downtown. It was known as the worst traffic jam in the state.

There were discussions in the 1940s, before the explosive growth of the following decade, to replace the Federal Aid Highway Bridge with a tunnel or new bridge. By the early ‘50s battle lines were drawn between advocates for a tunnel, headed by Miami News Broward edition editor Henry E. Kinney, and those for a bridge, led by Fort Lauderdale News owner R.H. Gore. Gore owned property near what would be affected by a right-of-way for the proposed tunnel. For years the debate raged unsettled.

Not until 1958 was the political imbroglio settled by a referendum. By a narrow margin, the tunnel solution won. Work started on what would take 865 days to complete 864 feet of tunnel  for $6.5 million - $2 million more than estimated during the early days of the debate. It opened December 9, 1960.

In 1986 the 35-foot deep New River Tunnel was re-named the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel, honoring the man who fought for its construction. It was once the only vehicular tunnel in Florida but two road tunnels operate at Walt Disney World in Kissimmee and in August, 2014, a 4,200-ft. tunnel opened at Port Miami. Copyright © 2011, 2015. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Other sources:
 Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia (2004).
 Weidling, Philip J. , Burghard, August. Checkered Sunshine. Gainesville: University of Florida Press (1966).

 Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, tunnels on U.S. 1, Florida tunnels, Florida history, Fort Lauderdale in the 1940s, Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s, Fort Lauderdale in 1960

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