Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Cross Florida Barge Canal

What's that, you say?  There is no Cross Florida Barge Canal?  No, there is not.  But there  almost was, from the St. John's River on the Atlantic side to the Withlacoochee River and the Gulf of Mexico.

A canal across Florida was first proposed back in 1567 by Phillip II of Spain.  It was again proposed in 1818 as a way to avoid pirates and piracy.   FDR started work on the canal in 1935, but work was stopped a year later due to concerns about Florida's aquifers.  Work was begun in earnest in 1964 and expected to be completed in 1971.  Environmentalists got the work stopped in 1969 and Richard Nixon officially ended the project in 1971.   Instead of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, it is now called the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway in honor of the woman who spearheaded opposition to the project.

You might be wondering why I'm writing about a defunct canal project.  Well, right now Pam and I are in Eureka Florida visiting relatives.  We rented a car and drove down yesterday.  Pam's step-dad, Earl, took us for a quick tour of the local river, once destined to be part of the canal.  As we approached the river in this flat-as-a-frying-pan section of Florida, a bridge arched up at an incredible angle for seemingly no reason.  It was built as part of the planned canal, along with a number of other bridges and locks.  The canal was over a quarter completed when construction stopped.

You math whizzes might have calculated that the bridge should have been over 70% completed in 1969, and if it had been perhaps the project wouldn't have been halted, but this is a government project we're talking about here.  Has any government project ever come in on schedule, or on budget?

So as a result of us 1960s tree hugging hippie baby boomers stopping this canal project, we 2012 retired hippie baby boomers now have to make the long trek around the bottom side of Florida at the Okeechobee Waterway or even around the Florida Keys to get from one side to the other.

Ironic, isn't it?  You reap what you sow.


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  2. Did you forget your new camera??

    More interesting stuff about the canal...

    May 1933 - Canal Authority of the State of Florida was created to construct and maintain a deep-water ship canal across Florida.
    1935-1936 – Construction of a ship canal began under the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act of 1935, but work was suspended when Federal funds were depleted.
    July 1942 – Congress authorized construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
    February 1964 – The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
    1969 – The Environmental Defense Fund and others filed suit in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking temporary and permanent injunction against the construction of the canal.
    January 15, 1971 – The District Court granted a preliminary injunction halting any further construction activities pending the outcome of the litigation.
    January 19, 1971 – President Richard Nixon signed an executive order suspending further work on the Barge Canal. When halted, the project was one-third complete and approximately $74 million had been spent on land acquisition and construction.
    1979 – Bills filed in Congress to deauthorize the Canal failed to pass.
    May 22, 1990 - A revised federal bill was filed in the U. S. Senate by Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack providing, among other things, for a minimum 300-yard wide greenway corridor to be maintained along the former Barge Canal route. This bill was agreed to by the entire Florida Congressional delegation.
    May 31, 1990 - The Florida Legislature enacted a deauthorization bill conforming to the consensus bill filed in the U. S. Senate. Most of the provisions were not effective until Congress deauthorized the project.
    October 27, 1990 – Senate Bill 2740 was passed by Congress and sent to the President for signature. The bill deauthorized the Cross Florida Barge Canal project upon acceptance by the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida.
    November 28, 1990 – President George Bush signed SB 2740 into law deauthorizing the Cross Florida Barge Canal project and changing the purpose of the lands to recreation and conservation.
    January 22, 1991 – The Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida signed a resolution agreeing to the terms of the Federal deauthorization bill thereby officially deauthorizing the Cross Florida Barge Canal project. This action ultimately led to the creation of the Cross Florida Greenway State Recreation and Conservation Area.
    1998 - The Cross Florida Greenway was officially renamed the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway in honor of the individual who led the fight to stop the Cross Florida Barge Canal project.

    1. LOL! I did forget the camera. Otherwise, there would be a dozen pics of bridges, trees, lizards, and the river.