BREVARD HISTORY: Original Cocoa To Merritt Island Indian River Wooden Bridge Constructed in May 1917
By Space Coast Daily // October 12, 2023
wooden toll bridge was used from 1922 to 1941
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Each day on the Space Coast, thousands of daily commuters make the trek between Cocoa and Merritt Island on State Road 520 via the Hubert Humphrey Bridge.
The high-arching Hubert Humphrey Bridge offers beautiful panoramic views of the Indian River Lagoon and the respective towns.
Prior to the Hubert Humphrey Bridge’s construction, commuters used a concrete bridge that was much shorter. Today, remnants of the original bridge are used as fishing piers.
The bridge between Merritt Island and Cocoa was constructed on May 1, 1917, and plans began for an additional bridge to connect Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach.
VICE PRESIDENT HUMPHREY INITIATES ACTION FOR A NEW BRIDGE
Due to increased traffic from NASA workers in the 1960s, traffic problems were growing worse on State Road 520. Then-Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey spoke to NASA and the U.S. Air Force, and they agreed to help fund the widening of the road.
On August 16, 1962, the road widening was completed. Less than six years later the Hubert H. Humphrey Bridge was dedicated by Humphrey on March 1, 1968.
In the map below, you will see the route of the original causeway, highlighted in red.
A bridge known as Humpback Bridge once connected Merritt Avenue to Banana River Drive (Audubon Road) before the Sykes Creek Bridge and Merritt Square mall were built.
After driving across the Humpback Bridge, drivers followed a route to Banana River Drive, then drove south for several miles to a section of Merritt Island known as “Angel City.”
Angel City marked the western entry point of the wooden toll bridge that was used from 1922 to 1941. Today, the only reminder of the structure is a plaque that reads:
“On this site on April 19, 1923, a wooden drawbridge across the Banana River was opened to the public linking Merritt Island to Cocoa Beach. To pay for the bridge, there was a round trip toll of .20 for the car and driver plus a .04 charge for each additional passenger. Upon completion of State Road 520 in 1941, the old bridge was dismantled. Only the concrete abutment and a few pilings remain to mark the location of the bridge that opened Cocoa Beach to development.”
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