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When the Tamiami Trail was constructed in 1928, it was considered a feat of engineering, becoming the only route from Tampa to Miami at that time. A two-lane road that stretched 264 miles (it’s last part of U.S. Highway 41 from State Road 60 in Tampa to U.S. Route 1 in Miami, the Tamiami Trail took 13 years, cost $8 million and used 2.6 million sticks of dynamite in its construction.

The problem of the Tamiami Trail is exactly what made it so attractive in the first place: it traverses the Everglades. The Trail effectively created a dam that blocked the water flow of the Everglades, drastically changing the ecology of the area. In order to restore the River of Grass, the Tamiami Trail must be changed. Construction of a one-mile bridge is scheduled to be complete in December 2013; plans are being evaluated for an additional series of bridges or elevations of the Tamiami Trail to facilitate additional water flow, which is critical to the recovery of the Everglades.

Riding along the Tamiami Trail, drivers and passengers will enjoy the surprisingly varied landscape of the Everglades, from pinelands to saw-grass marshes; you might catch a glimpse of an alligator sunning himself in one of the roadside canals and water birds are plentiful. In addition to the natural landscape, remnants of the 1950s and 60s tourist traps remain, man-made kitsch is abundant and there are plenty of opportunities to ride an airboat or go gator-sighting. Keep an eye out for the Skunk Ape, the Everglades’ version of Big Foot.

Practical Info

The Tamiami Trail is the 264 miles of U.S. Highway 41 that runs from Tampa to Miami, becoming South Eighth Street (Calle Ocho in the Little Havana section of Miami) before ending at Brickell Avenue in Brickell, Downtown Miami. The Trail is open year-round and can be traversed in a day, with time to visit the nation’s smallest post office and other attractions. The Tamiami Trail is designated a National Scenic Byway by the United States Department of Transportation for its unique scenery in the Everglades and the Big Cypress National Preserve.

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