Banana River Links
SR 520 or Cocoa Beach Causeway

Beachline, Bennett Causeway, SR 528

Roads Connecting the Banana River to Central Florida

Friday June 22, 2018

If you're traveling to Florida's east coast from Orlando and it's attractions there's a high possibility of you heading over on our well traveled toll road now referred to as the Beach Line or State Road 528. Originally the road was called the Bennett Causeway and shortly afterward given the nickname that stuck "The Beeline" as it was the shortest route to the coast and also the most expensive toll road in Florida to the dismay of many travelers. "You no longer get up to speed and you're at another toll booth with a hand out" explains one weary traveler after heading to the east coast of Florida.

Upon arriving at the coastline the first main body of water you'll span is the freshwater St. John River and it's sprawling plain of wetlands. Within minutes you'll find cross the Indian River Lagoon, Merritt Island and then the Banana River Lagoon before reaching Cape Canaveral where SR-520 abruptly merges into A1A turning southward toward Cocoa Beach and onward to the Florida Keys.

The Bennett Causeway

Named after Emory Lawrence Bennett the decorated Medal of Honor soldier that was born in New Smyrna, Florida on December 20, 1929. His family moved to Indianola on Merritt Island when he was six and to Cocoa in 1937. His parents ran "Bennett Fish Market", and he helped catch fish in the nearby Indian River to sell. The family supplemented their diet by duck hunting, and Emory proved a crack shot. He had three older brothers: Gary, Marvin and John. Bennett graduated from Cocoa High School in 1948 and enlisted in the Army on July 25, 1950.
Bennett served in Korea as a private first class with Company B of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. In the early morning hours of June 24, 1951, two enemy battalions launched a human wave attack against his company's defensive position near Sobangsan. Bennett left his foxhole and stood exposed to hostile fire in order to attack with his automatic rifle. Although wounded, he maintained this position long enough to momentarily halt the enemy advance and allow Company B to regroup. The assault resumed, however, and the company was forced to pull back. Bennett voluntarily stayed behind to provide covering fire while the rest of the unit withdrew, during which time he was mortally wounded. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on February 1, 1952.

The Bennett family still resides in Merritt Island and the only family member that we are acquainted with is Mary Evelyn Bennett and the house she grew up on south Merritt Island.

The Beach Line Controversy

As with many things "change" is inevitable and the name Beeline could never stay as opportunity knocks and vacationers didn't relate the Beeline as the way towards the coastline and it's beaches. Sometime around 2003 the recommendation and acceptance of SR-520 to be renamed the Beach Line was adopted and accepted by the Tourist Development Council and many of the local governments and so goes the decades of the BeeLine. "I don't know, I've always called it the Beeline and I'm supposing the change is good, but it will always be the Beeline to me." explains Captain Richard of Lagooner Fishing Guides.

It Will Always be The Beeline to Me...

Captain Richard grew up driving to Orlando from his Merritt Island home on the Beeline and when recent advocates of the renaming came to light, we all just threw up our hands in dismay and the change became so much bar room fodder for conversation and discontent. "I heard threats of unshackling newly labeled signs or spray painting newly named Beachline signs to show shoveling for us older Florida Crackers, but I never saw any signs of the rebellion and I never officially participated in them", explains Captain Richard. "I'm sure there was some vandalism, but it was not as widespread as expected. We DO however need to protect or history and past from the future", a wide grinned Bradley humorously reflects. "Our heritage is at stake!"

The Banana River Lagoon and the Beeline Beachline

Just prior to entering Cape Canaveral you'll cross a great body of inshore water that stretches to the north and south called the Banana River Lagoon. The Banana River is a true lagoon that is filled by the numerous inlets along Florida's coastlines. During the early 1970's the Beeline or Beachline as it is now referred was built as a shorter, more direct route from Orlando and it's newly built attraction Disney World to Cocoa Beach and Florida's East Coast. The former State Road 50 from Orlando ended in Titusville and was inadequate and needed updating.

The Banana River Lagoon is an opportunity for anglers and vacationers to catch the abundant game fish while spending a day watching the local wildlife in the Florida outdoors and sunshine.

Florida's finest fishing opportunities are directly connected to Orlando and it's Themeparks by the Beachline or SR 528.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

Author Captain Richard Bradley

Captain Richard Bradley is the author and contributor for many of the articles written on the Lagooner website. Richard is a professional fishing guide, taking anglers in his native waters near the Banana and Mosquito Lagoons on Florida's central east coast almost three hundred trips seasonally. When not charter fishing, Captain Richard enjoys time with his family surfing, fishing, camping and various other outdoor activities.

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