Knocking over safety barriers along North Roosevelt Boulevard may have seemed like nothing more than a lark to those who did it.
But state officials are concerned because the disappearance of the safety barriers, which guide not only motorists but pedestrians and bicyclists, could lead to a serious accident.
"Some have been knocked over, some have been thrown into the water," said Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Dean Walters. "The barrels are there to warn pedestrians and someone could get hurt."
The state transportation department is rebuilding the busy thoroughfare from Palm Avenue to the triangle, a two-year project that has resulted in new routes for traffic, often to the consternation of residents.
Walters said officials think the moving or splashing of the barriers is seen as a prank by the perpetrators. But a report was filed with the Key West Police Department.
Police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said she is unaware of any special actions being taken by police regarding the matter.
But while the ditching of barriers was particularly noticed last week, things were a little better during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Walters said he hopes that's indicative of a trend.
In addition to the safety issue, the appearance of the barriers in local waters is cause for concern. Crews must take time to retrieve them, and state environmental officials write up the appearance of barrels in the water that belong to the state the same way they would if they belonged to anyone else.
"Environmental inspectors have to write us up for stuff being in the water," said Walters, adding that most of the vandalism has occurred between Palm Avenue and the Key West Yacht Club.
Walters and other officials said they hope if people know the potential dangers of moving or trashing the barricades, then they might think twice.
"It can be a very dangerous thing for anyone riding a bicycle," Walters said. "We don't want anyone getting hurt, and our contractor is very good about making sure everything is very, very safe."