State Route 20 or State Road 20 (SR-20) is a state route in the U.S. state of Florida. The road forms a long east-west route through the north of the state, from Niceville in the Florida Panhandle via the state capital Tallahassee and Gainesville to Bunnell on the east coast. The stretch from Tallahassee to Gainesville has a long double numbering with US 27. State Route 20 is 576 kilometers long.
Niceville – Tallahassee
State Road 20 west of Tallahassee.
According to Topschoolsintheusa, State Road 20 begins in the town of Niceville at State Road 85. The road forms the main road through Niceville and has four to six lanes. Through traffic can bypass Niceville via State Road 293. East of Niceville, the road is single-lane and runs along Choctawhatchee Bay, a large lagoon. Between Niceville and Tallahassee, the road covers more than 200 kilometers through a relatively sparsely populated area. There are no larger towns on this part of the route, just a few villages. 20 to 35 kilometers north, Interstate 10 handles through east-west traffic through the Florida Panhandle.
State Road 20 intersects several north-south roads, such as US 331, US 231 and a number of other state roads. The easternmost section between Blountstown and Tallahassee leads through a densely forested area with almost no other roads. One reaches the capital Tallahassee from the west and is a more secondary approach to the city. A little further into the city, the road becomes a five-lane road with a center turn lane. The road passes Florida State University and intersects with US 27 in downtown Tallahassee.
Tallahassee – Gainesville
See also US 27 in Florida.
Between Tallahassee and Gainesville, State Road 20 is double-numbered for 225 kilometers with a US Highway, mostly US 27 and a small part with US 441. There is also partly a triple numbering with the US 19 between Capps and Perry. The section from Tallahassee to Perry is an important through route and is completely constructed as a 2×2 divided highway. The stretch from Perry to High Springs is mostly two-lane. This region is sparsely populated. The eastern section between High Springs and Gainesville is again equipped with 2×2 lanes. There is also a connection to Interstate 75 here.
Gainesville – Bunnell
The Memorial Bridge over the St. Johns River in Palatka.
East of Gainesville, State Road 20 forms another 2×2 divided highway beyond Hawthorne. This route leads through a more sparsely populated region with a lot of forest. There are also 2×2 lanes between Interlachen and Palatka. In Palatka one crosses the broad St. Johns River, after which the last part leads to Bunnell as a single carriageway through a sparsely populated region. State Road 20 ends in Bunnell on US 1, not far from the Atlantic coast.
The current State Road 20 was created with the 1945 renumbering and is one of Florida’s primary east-west routes. The route was originally closed off in the Florida Panhandle, missing a 45-kilometer stretch between SR-79 at Ebro and US 231 near Fountain. This part was only built in the mid 1970s.
State Road 20 is largely a single-lane road on portions not double-numbered with other US Highways. Work has been done to widen the section from Gainesville to Palatka to a 2×2 divided highway. In the period 2000-2004, the section from Gainesville to Hawthorne was widened to 2×2 lanes. In 2019, the first section eastwards from Hawthorne was widened to 2×2 lanes, initially to the county line. In the period 2004-2007, the part to the east between Interlachen and Palatka was widened to 2×2 lanes.
During the Florida Land Boom in the 1920s, the area around Interlachen was extensively developed with roads in the woods with the intention of making it a larger city. A large part of this has never been realized, so that there is an extensive grid of little-used roads in the woods. The area has only been built up to a limited extent.
The first road bridge over the St. Johns River opened in Palatka in 1927. The current 2×2 lane Memorial Bridge was built in 1976. During that period, a short section of the road further to San Mateo was widened to 2×2 lanes.