The first bridge over the Peace River, the Charlotte Harbor Bridge, was opened in 1921 . The bridge was built after much legal and financial haggling to insure that the Tamiami Trail would run through Punta Gorda. It ran from Live Oak Point in Charlotte Harbor on the north bank of the river to Nesbit Street in Punta Gorda. After the Tamiami Trail opened in 1928, it was determined that this bridge would not meet the needs of the road because of its poor construction and narrow lanes.
Barron G. Collier, who owned the Hotel Charlotte Harbor (formerly the Hotel Punta Gorda), was one of the main proponents of building a new bridge. Work began on the original Barron Collier Bridge in 1929, built a block east of the Charlotte Harbor Bridge at King Street (now U.S. 41 North). The construction of the bridge necessitated the demolition of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad’s dock at King Street.
The original Barron Collier Bridge opened on July 4, 1931 with great fanfare including a community fish fry. The old Charlotte Harbor Bridge was then closed to traffic and converted into fishing piers, which were demolished in the 1970s.
In 1976, the westernmost Gilchrist Bridge was opened to traffic, and southbound traffic was rerouted there, while both lanes on the old Barron Collier Bridge began carrying only northbound traffic. Then on January 12, 1983, a new and the now current Barron Collier Bridge was opened to traffic. The old Barron Collier Bridge was then demolished, and its remains sunk into Charlotte Harbor for an artificial reef.