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Getting Around

Palm Beach International Airport

In 1951, during the Korean War, the Air Force reactivated Morrison Field, which had been a base during World War II, at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA). Civilian operations and the passenger terminal were moved back to the south side of the field. Close to 23,000 airmen trained in West Palm Beach during the Korean conflict. After the war, the federal government attempted to make the airport a permanent military base, but in 1959 Palm Beach County took over operations; ownership of the 2,000-acre airport was official transferred in 1960.

The first permanent terminal, on Southern Boulevard, cost nearly $125,000 to build in 1953, when only Eastern, National, and a few small airlines served West Palm Beach. But the county's needs quickly outgrew the building and were more evident during President John F. Kennedy's visits on Air Force One from 1960-1963. In 1965 a $4 million bond issue funded construction of the maintenance terminal and surrounding facilities. Federal officials later built a new air traffic control tower.

The $4 million, two-level main terminal with eight gates opened in 1966 in the northeast part of the airport near Australian Avenue and Belvedere Road. All boarding was done on rolling stairs. Passengers collected their bags in two covered areas adjacent to the terminal.

In 1974 Delta Air Lines constructed the airport's second main terminal, costing $2 million and equipped with six gates, PBIA’s first jetways, and its own baggage claim and ticketing areas. Jetways were installed on the upper level of the main terminal soon after.

Several airlines added regular service to West Palm Beach in 1978, due to deregulation of the airline industry. Eastern, National, and United shared their gates and ticket counters with them, and United Airlines added a concourse shortly thereafter.

Roads

The first section of the Sunshine State Parkway, now Florida’s Turnpike, opened in 1957. The 110-mile stretch from the Golden Glades in Miami to Fort Pierce included its path through Palm Beach County.

Although the Beeline Highway (now State Road 710) linking West Palm Beach to Tampa was started in 1941, the 35-mile stretch from West Palm Beach to Okeechobee was not completed until 1958. Employees of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, whose daily commute was reduced by 25 to 30 miles, especially welcomed the new road.

As traffic demands increased over the years in West Palm Beach, Flagler Drive was reworked and a seawall added. In 1972 a landfill widened the north-south artery to four lanes, beautified the waterfront, and reduced the curve of the road at Holy Trinity Church and The Hut drive-in restaurant; a park and the Phillips Point office tower sit on the filled area.

Many major thoroughfares in Palm Beach County were built by Hardrives of Delray Inc., founded in 1953. George Thomas Elmore (1929- ) and his wife, Wilma, traded their car for a pickup truck, and used all their resources to buy a dump truck, roller, and grader. Although Elmore’s first job was to pave a driveway and it was three years before he built a road, the time was right for new construction. Hardrives grew to employ 300 people and built main roads such as much of Military Trail and Congress Avenue and the western portions of Glades Road, Atlantic Boulevard, Boynton Beach Boulevard, Hypoluxo Road and Lantana Road.

Hardrives completed about half of I-95 from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach. The interstate highway was opened in sections in south Florida over three decades: from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street, West Palm Beach, in 1966; from 45th Street to Palm Beach Gardens in 1969; parts between Boynton Beach and Miami and between Lake Worth and Hypoluxo in 1975; from Palm Beach Gardens to Miami in 1976, and the long-awaited “missing link” of 29.7 miles from State Road 714 to Palm Beach Gardens in 1987. Although I-95 originally followed the Sunshine State Parkway (today's Florida's Turnpike) from Miami to near Fort Pierce, the final path bypassed the turnpike between North Palm Beach and Fort Pierce.

More roads required more bridges across the Intracoastal Waterway and other bodies of water, and the replacement of existing bridges. During the 1950s, bridges on major roads were built in Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, North Palm Beach, Tequesta, Ocean Ridge, Lantana, and Palm Beach Gardens. A new Royal Park Bridge opened between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach in 1959. Another spurt of bridge-building occurred during the 1970s, when new bridges were completed in Riviera Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, and Boca Raton; a new Lake Worth Pier opened as well, in 1972.


 

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