The End of the Road

Graphic by Kenny Malone

You’ve heard of “big tent” political parties. How about “big overpass” parties?

Is GOP the party of Interstate 95?” read a headline from McClatchy Newspapers last month.

About two weeks after the November midterm elections, the Republican Governors Association met in Boca Raton. During a press conference, newly appointed chairman -- and Tennessee governor -- Bill Haslam told a group of reporters about a recent revelation.

Earlier this year the Florida Department of Transportation entered into a partnership with the traffic data company Waze. The Israeli startup, now owned by Google, lets “Wazers” use a smartphone app to report the location of crashes, congestion, potholes, road kill and police officers among many other things.

The agreement is purely a “data-sharing” partnership. Waze gets access to the stream of information produced by the road sensors FDOT uses to monitor traffic flow on Florida’s major highways. And FDOT gets access to the myriad reports filed by Wazers.

Gregory Castillo / WLRN

When Arthur Bowditch Fay set out to chronicle his 300-mile Interstate 95 commute from Spotsylvania, Va. to Leonia, N.J., he came to the realization that the English language did not have the words to describe what he was seeing and doing.

So he invented those words:

dreamile (noun)
“The distance traveled while... daydreaming. Usually nothing of the dreamile is remembered.”

Graphic assembled by Kenny Malone (I-95 shield comes from "I, 95" book cover, map from Google Maps)

No bicycles allowed. Turn signals, believe it or not, are required before switching lanes. And if your car breaks down, you are supposed to move it, within six hours to be exact.

Those are some laws on Interstate 95. And then there are the laws of I-95:

FIRST     The less time you have to get to a destination, the more likely you will encounter traffic.

SECOND     Important signage will be displayed improminently or out of sight.

Kenny Malone

About 30 years ago, Hancock Advertising, Inc., was awarded eight of the first 10 permits to put billboards on the City of Miami’s highways. Seven of those billboards went up on Interstate 95. It would take a two-year legal battle over the word “on” to determine whether or not the eighth sign was also on I-95.

Kenny Malone

“Miami’s Southbound Interstate 95 from 153rd Street to 125th Street looks -- and feels -- like it was engineered by Pablo Picasso,” we reported last August.

Well, apparently I-95 is still in its Cubist phase.


At best, the signs were confusing. At worst, an incentive to illegally pylon-jump between express and non-express lanes.

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Transportation will shut down two problematic electronic 95 Express tolls signs: one above the northbound 95 express lanes near Northwest 54th Street and one on the southbound lanes near Northwest 144th Street.

“It really doesn’t add benefit at this point,” says Rory Santana, who runs the 95 Express system for FDOT.


As part of our End of the Road series, we’ve reported extensively on the so-called “Lexus Lanes” on I-95. In the 95 express lanes drivers can pay a toll to get around regular gridlock traffic. That toll varies based on how many car are piling into the express lanes at that moment. The more demand, the higher the toll -- to keep things moving.

The lanes were the first of their kind in Florida, but a new report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting says 95 Express is the future for Florida’s highways.


An internal FDOT report shows more and more drivers are plowing past bright yellow “closed” signs and getting into 95 Express when the lanes are technically shut down for accidents or broken-down vehicles. But the Florida Highway Patrol can’t enforce the signs because they’re the wrong color: yellow-on-black  instead of black-and-white.

Kenny Malone

Carlos Lora doesn’t care what the electronic toll sign for 95 Express says. Fifty cents, $6.00, $10.50 -- it doesn’t matter. After a long day at work as a South Beach condo manager, he’s getting in his Mini Cooper to go home to Hollywood Beach, and he's using the fast lanes to get there.

“And even if it says ‘closed,’ I’m guilty of still jumping on,” Lora says.