Alligator Alley was built from both ends toward the middle. The surveyors often worked in water up to their knees, much like their counterparts who had worked on the Tamiami Trail decades earlier. When they reached dry land, they would start at one end of their line and work its way across, stopping at specified intervals to mark the location of markers set into the ground. As more land was developed, so too did more of Alligator Alley.
The first road across Florida was built by slaves working for the government. It was called the Old Spanish Trail and ran from Tampa to Santa Fe. In 1838, the trail was improved and renamed the Macarthur Road after a British diplomat who supported American independence. In 1856, the U.S. Government funded the building of another road, this time across northern Florida. This new road was named the Indian Boundary Line Road because it was supposed to be wide enough for wagons to travel on. Unfortunately, not every piece of property along its route was owned by someone who wanted his or her land used for building roads! Thus, the government had to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the necessary rights of way.
In 1858, the governor of Florida signed a bill authorizing the building of yet another road, this time across southern Florida.
The American Automobile Association gave it the moniker "Alligator Lane" while it was being developed because they thought it would be worthless to automobiles and just a "alley for alligators." But people started calling it Alligator Alley instead, so the AAA changed their mind and made it legal.
Its origins date back to 1872, when the Louisville and Nashville Railroad built a line from Louisville through Kentucky and into Tennessee. The right-of-way for this railroad line is now part of the eastern border of the United States between Virginia and North Carolina. At that time, Indian territory, there were many alligators in the creeks and rivers that the railroad was forced to cross. To protect their trains from being attacked by the reptiles, the railroad officials had boards placed across these streams to make them impossible to climb which in turn made the roads crossing them useless to travelers who didn't have cars.
There are several theories as to why the road was named after the alligator. One theory is that the road was once known as "Gator Trail" and then someone decided to change it to something more appealing to tourists. Another theory is that the name comes from one of the first settlers on the route, James Allen, who once told a reporter that the road was like an alligator alley where thieves could easily steal your car.
Huntley, who has worked with the Corps of Engineers for 17 years and has been the lake's manager for 12 years, spoke to the Meridian Civitan Club on Tuesday. "Normally, they (alligators) are on the north end of the lake, but because the water level is low, they may be venturing into other regions," Huntley said.
Alligators are native to the United States and can be found in almost every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Although rarely seen by humans, alligators are widespread and many people live near their habitat without knowing it. In fact, alligators are responsible for about two dozen deaths a year from natural causes or through being hit by cars. Their predators include other animals such as snakes, birds, and humans.
In Mississippi, alligators can be found in Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and Lake Maurepas in Alexandria, Louisiana.
People have been hunting alligators for sport since the early 1900s. Today, alligator hunting is regulated by each state individually. In Mississippi, only licensed hunters can kill an alligator. They must be tagged and measured before they can be harvested.
An alligator tag is valid for one year. A license is required for individuals over 16 years old. There is no charge for anyone who wants to hunt gators but there is a limit of one per person, per day.
Alligator Alley is an 80-mile section of I-75 in Florida. The route takes its name from the adjacent wetlands, which are home to Florida's alligators. The roadway has been walled off due to numerous collisions between wildlife and motorists throughout the years. In fact, more than 50% of the accidents that occur on I-75 involve vehicles colliding with alligators.
I-75 runs through five counties in south central Florida: Dade, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk. The highway begins at the Florida/Georgia border near Palm Beach and travels eastward across the state before ending at I-95 near Tampa. I-75 is part of the main north-south artery through Florida, providing access to major cities such as Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. The highway is also used by tourists as a shortcut to get to Disney World and other popular destinations.
The road was built in 1958 and originally called the Tamiami Trail. It was renamed I-75 in 1967 when the Interstate Highway System was created. Alligator Alley was later added to the interstate highway system in 1973.
Currently, there are plans to build a bridge over Alligator Alley in order to repair and replace old bridges that are no longer able to handle heavy traffic. The new bridge will connect State Road 954 to State Road 955, opening up much-needed additional lanes for drivers.