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7 - Building the Sawgrass Expressway

It had many alternative planned routes and even more names until it finally became State Road 869 and designated, as we know it today, the Sawgrass Expressway.  It had an incredible impact on Parkland though its impact could have been devastating. 

Originally it was planned to be called the University-Deerfield Expressway when it was first proposed in 1969. By early February 1979, the Broward County Commission proposed to build it but with the north-south leg called the University Expressway and the east-west leg the Deerfield Expressway—potentially right through Parkland. 

Parkland’s quiet, country atmosphere was being threatened by two alternative east-west routes. One alternative for the expressway was along Holmberg Road—right through Parkland--and the other path along the southern fringe of a new subdivision on the north side of the Pine Tree Canal—pretty much the border between Coral Springs and Parkland. 

The location of the Deerfield Expressway was going to determine the future lifestyle of Parkland which depended on where the highway was to be built. The entire population of Parkland was only around 350 and the residents were furious. At the time, the only way into Parkland was via Holmberg Road and only from US441/SR7. Mayor Gerren and the commissioners had just been successful in preserving the Parkland lifestyle by convincing Narco Realty, Inc. to reduce the density of Parkland Lakes (later renamed Cypresshead) to three-quarter acre lots. And just prior to that in 1978, Leadership Housing had defaulted on plans to build 55,000 residential units in Parkland. 

The Parkland residents wanted to retain their rural lifestyle—the reason most had moved to Parkland in the first place. They were concerned that the expressway would endanger wildlife and destroy the beauty of the city. What worried the residents was the chance that the Deerfield Expressway could carve up Parkland by bringing thousands of cars and trucks rumbling through the quiet town. There was also concern that the expressway would run over the Pine Tree Canal which provided the city with storm drainage, without which septic tanks could not be built. 

John Van Hise, a Parkland resident, warned that running the highway through Parkland “may destroy Broward’s last chance to preserve wildlife for future generations.” “Animals and people coexist here just fine,” he said. “I’ve seen otter, possum, raccoons, armadillos, egrets and all other kinds of animals. We’re one of the few places left for Florida panthers and bobcats. They’ll all have to go when a highway comes through.” 

The Broward County Commission for the most part followed the advice of Broward County Commissioner George I. Platt when he described why the expressway west of State Road 441 should follow the border between Parkland and Coral Springs. In March 1979, County Commissioner Anne Kolb proposed a minor shift in the route through Parkland to follow the north bank of the Pine Tree Canal from the west, go east past Riverside Drive and shift to the south side of the canal in Coral Springs as the expressway went further east.


In this April 1987 Land Use Plan, the Sawgrass Expressway is at the bottom. Note the slight jog in the center and “Old” Holmberg Rd. to its north still shown traversing Ranch Road.

[Picture Credit: Courtesy of the City of Parkland, Department of Planning & Development.]

At the far eastern end, seven expressway alternative routes had been offered for just the two-mile stretch from Powerline Road to Interstate 95, south of Century Village. Coral Ridge Properties reserved a 2 1/2-mile stretch of right of way for the Deerfield road but this has remained a surface road.


Picture courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation

Traffic Engineering and Operations, November 2003


Opened in July 1986, the Sawgrass Expressway was constructed by the Broward County Expressway Authority.  The Florida Department of Transportation acquired the Sawgrass Expressway in December 1990 as part of Florida’s Turnpike system.

[Picture Credit: Though created by the Broward County Expressway Authority, the pictures were retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on “Florida State Road 869”.] 


State Road 869, also designated the Sawgrass Expressway, today is a 23-mile-long, limited-access toll bypass of Broward County from US1 (SR-5) in Deerfield Beach as a surface street (SE/SW 10th Street), then becoming a toll expressway as it passes Florida’s Turnpike 4 travelling on the south side Parkland then bending southward as it goes around Coral Springs towards its end at the junction of Interstate 75, Interstate 595 and SR-84 in Weston.



Written by James Weiss; Archive Retrieval by Pierre Hodot; Edited by Ira Goldman; Design and Art Work by Bill Reicherter; Parkland Historical Society President Jeff Schwartz;