KEY LARGO -- Those orange traffic cones along the Overseas Highway aren't going away anytime soon.
Beginning this week, Florida Department of Transportation crews will undertake an 11-month resurfacing project from mile markers 90.7 to 97. The resurfacing is expected to cause lane closures in both directions. The project, which was set to begin Monday, Jan. 13, will cost about $8 million.
In addition to repaving and restriping the highway, the project will reconstruct portions of the bike path and upgrade roadway signage, drainage swales and pedestrian crossings.
The project will begin while a second FDOT resurfacing project remains unfinished from mile markers 99 to 106. Construction crews still line the bike path in the mile marker 103 area.
Key Largo Chamber of Commerce President Craig Cope said businesses aren't happy with all that work taking place at the same time, but noted it wasn't a worse-case scenario.
"It's obviously not ideal," Cope said, adding the challenges are nowhere near that faced by businesses in Key West due to the North Roosevelt Boulevard road project.
"We would love for all of the work to be at night, but I'm told that's just not cost effective," Cope said.
During the latest resurfacing project, only one of two lanes in each direction will be closed at any time, according to FDOT, and closures will occur between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Friday.
Existing lanes will not be closed on Saturdays, holidays, Fridays preceding a Saturday holiday or Mondays following a Sunday holiday. No lanes will be closed during special events as determined by the project engineer or during tourist season through April 20.
Meanwhile, road projects aren't the only work taking place along the highway.
Sewer pipeline installation accounts for the construction equipment in the mile marker 97 median, just north of Shell World. The village of Islamorada is in the final stages of building its sewer line to the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District plant at mile marker 100.5, oceanside.
Islamorada officials supervising that project estimate that it should be completed by the first week of February. The last portion of the pipeline to be installed is between mile markers 97 and 99, according to Gene Hoffman of Layne, known locally as Reynolds Water Islamorada, and Tom Brzezinski of Wade Trim.
Restoration, including re-sodding the medians, could continue after the pipeline is complete. And work at each end of the pipeline could also extend past early February.
Paul Christian, chief information officer for the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, says most of the district's work at the plant is complete.
Meanwhile, in North Key Largo, Monroe County is expected to award a contractor approval to begin building a bike path from the Overseas Highway up County Road 905 to the Ocean Reef Club. The Monroe County Commission is to vote on the contract at its Wednesday, Jan. 15, meeting.
Also up for approval is a reduction of the speed limit in that area from 50 to 45 mph.