Motorists and bicyclists will face new detours and business owners new challenges in a little over a week's time, as construction crews move forward with the Florida Department of Transportation's overhaul of North Roosevelt Boulevard.
FDOT spokesman Dean Walters said the work, which includes replacement of some sewer and water lines, will reach from Palm Avenue to Kennedy Drive beginning on or around July 23.
"Anybody going out of town coming up Truaman Avenue will have to turn right onto First Street," Walters said. "They will then take Flagler to Bertha."
Traffic on North Roosevelt Boulevard from First Street/Palm Avenue to Kennedy Drive will now become two lanes inbound only.
For the duration of the reconstruction project, which could last for two years, one lane in each direction will be maintained between Eisenhower Drive and First Street/Palm Avenue. Outbound on Palm Avenue will also be detoured onto First Street. Drivers may then continue to Flagler Avenue or Bertha Street and South Roosevelt Boulevard.
"Traffic between Kennedy Drive and the triangle at U.S. Highway 1 will remain two lanes in each direction," said Walters, who added that pedestrians and bicyclists are cautioned to obey all lane closures and direction changes during the project.
So far the construction appears to be going well and is on schedule, Walters said.
"Listening to the project engineers they said this is the smoothest changeover they have ever been involved with," he said. "We're now taking a 2-dimensional plan and making it a 3-dimensional reality."
Businesses in the high-traffic corridor between First Street and Kennedy have been spared the brunt of construction effects so far. But that will change on or around July 23.
Mickey Malgrat of Conch Cuts, a hair salon on North Roosevelt, said he is preparing for the change.
"We have concerns about us being able to get access, but you can come up Fifth Street and get access to our parking lot," Malgrat said. "I am worried because of the next phase when they are right up above our lot, about people getting in."
Malgrat said state transportation officials have been keeping in touch, and answering business owners' questions.
"They have had meetings and make sure they inform you," he said. "Of course nobody wants all that going on in front of your business. But you can't fight it so might as well sit back and let it happen."