Construction crews have laid down fresh asphalt along the state's $42 million rebuilding of North Roosevelt Boulevard, which is on track to host two-way traffic from the Triangle to Palm Avenue by the morning of Oct. 16, the project spokesman said Thursday.
Under pressure from local businesses and the City Commission, the state Department of Transportation conceded to turning the currently open lanes of the boulevard into two-way traffic with a dedicated turn lane.
"It's huge," said FDOT spokesman Dean Walters of the two-way undertaking. "There will be lane closures, a lot of stuff going on. They've got to remove all the striping and put in new striping."
The project, which began in April 2012 and includes replacing a crumbling, 1940s-era water main system, plus installing new drainage pipes and a new seawall, remains on schedule for completion July 21, 2014, Walters said.
About six weeks before that due date, the boulevard will resemble a finished roadway, Walters said, as crews will finish planting trees and other landscaping tasks.
The reconstruction is a long haul for Key West residents, who have tried to adapt to one-way traffic from the Triangle to Palm Avenue.
"The rain has been just awful," Walters said. "Certain things you can't do in the rain. You can't compact the soil and you can't do the asphalt. At night, they've been paving like crazy. Fifty or 60 truckloads of asphalt came down" from the mainland.
By the way, bicyclists, that fresh pavement remains off-limits, Walters said Thursday.
"It's still a construction zone," he said. "We're finding bicyclists riding on it."
Three layers of pavement have been applied to the new road, according to Walters, and that is only a start.
"A total of 11 inches of asphalt, very substantial, will be put on," he said.
Once the boulevard is completed, there will be a five-year moratorium on roadwork there, meaning it can't be cut into.
That middle turn lane coming Oct. 16 will change function along the boulevard, not always being a dedicated turn lane or available for motorists coming from both ends, according to a new map unveiled at a Key West Chamber of Commerce event and due to hit the FDOT website this week.