City officials say motorists should find an important traffic relief valve open this morning when road work is expected to be complete at the intersection of Glynn Archer and Northside drives.
Meanwhile they are also cautioning motorists that extra care must be taken as traffic woes continue at school crossings, where guards are seeing signs of impatience and greater risk for children.
The intersection of Glynn Archer and Northside is considered crucial because with traffic on North Roosevelt Boulevard -- now one-way inbound north of Kennedy Drive -- drivers have not been able to reach prime shopping areas, as well as their homes and businesses, without extreme difficulty and route changes.
"They are paving like crazy to get it opened up," Key West spokeswoman Alyson Crean said Wednesday afternoon.
The intersection was to have been cleared Monday, when the detours on Roosevelt east of Kennedy began. But rain made continuation of paving impossible, Crean said. There had been other scheduling issues relating to coordination between the city and the Florida Department of Transportation, as the two projects continued.
According to Crean, the Northside and Glynn Archer job was going to be completed later this month, leaving less of a chance for conflict.
"Initially FDOT had a later date for re-routing from Kennedy to the Triangle. It looked like it was all going to dovetail. When that changed we tried to speed it up and get it open for Monday," Crean said, referring to the Glynn Archer work.
There were additional difficulties because of later delays to the Glynn Archer site.
"There have been some adjustments they have had to make," said Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Dean Walters. "They found some of the infrastructure was not as deep as they thought it was going to be."
Although the project on Glynn Archer is a city job, FDOT is paying for some of it and so is monitoring it closely.
He confirmed reports of another cause for delay, the discovery of contamination in the soils beneath the Glynn Archer site, due to the existence a long time ago of a gas station.
"That was part of the delay," Walters said. "They had to bring a contamination crew into it. You never know what was once put under the ground."
The construction woes have put the pressure on crossing guards, Crean said, who complain that "anxious motorists are continuously rolling through crosswalks, even when guards and children are in the street."
"Parents are also stopping their cars in the middle of crosswalks to pick up their children, impeding the crossing of other children," Crean said.
"And the new traffic pattern is a challenge for everyone, said John Wilkins, who oversees the city's crossing guard program. "But we have to remember that the safety of our children comes above everything," he said.
Wilkins urged drivers to heed school zone speed limits and come to a complete stop when crossing guards or children are in a crosswalk.
Whatever the reasons for various traffic tie-ups Wednesday, motorists said they were trying their best to cope.
For Key West High School senior Kayla Geide, re-routing for a simple trip to the Searstown shopping plaza, the detouring was a budget-biter.
"There is a difference in gas," she said, after returning to her four-door Nissan Frontier pickup with two teammates from the school's volleyball team. "It was only a five-minute delay."
Chanda Johnston of Key West brought her children to the plaza Wednesday on a shoe-shopping expedition and was dismayed by delays, especially since her home is close by, making that trip normally a breeze.
Although inconvenienced by the tie-ups, Johnston said she is doing what she can to still frequent local businesses in construction areas.
"We went to Daddy Bones yesterday," she said, referring to a North Roosevelt barbecue restaurant. "We want to show our support."