It was two years ago Wednesday that construction crews first broke ground on the North Roosevelt Boulevard overhaul that has become a dusty and congested way of life for New Town motorists.
Florida Department of Transportation Project Manager Ali Toghiani spoke Wednesday to members of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, but focused his comments more on the completion dates, rather than the starting date of the construction.
"If the contractor gets five lanes of traffic open by July 21, he gets a $1.2 million bonus," Toghiani said. "If five lanes are open by July 31, he gets $1 million, and as of Aug. 1, the contractor gets no bonus."
The FDOT official also warned the chamber audience that "five lanes open doesn't necessarily mean that construction will be entirely over."
Toghiani explained that some detail and finishing work will still be taking place once the new travel lanes are open and the signals are operational.
"We thank you for your patience through this, especially the boulevard business owners," he said, reminding them that now is the time to contact FDOT about any issues with "harmonization," or the transition from the roadway to their parking lot.
"Do not delay," Toghiani said. "If there are any issues with ramps, driveways,or curbs, and if things are not as we promised you they would be, please get in touch with us immediately to resolve the issues now."
Transportation and city officials are planning a late-August ribbon-cutting ceremony for the boulevard, but the celebration of a construction-free zone will be short-lived, as work will begin on U.S. 1 in the fall.
Toghiani outlined the preliminary schedules for roadwork between the Triangle entrance to Key West and Mile Marker 10, which includes Boca Chica Bridge.
Crews will be milling and resurfacing the roadway, widening sidewalks and bike lanes in some areas, and making structural repairs underneath the bridge.
The contract for the $15 million project will be awarded June 18, Toghiani said, with work slated to begin in the fall and continue for 450 days.
That project also will include a financial incentive for early completion, he said. Much of the work on this project can be done at night, because that stretch of U.S. 1 is not a residential corridor.
Finally, Toghiani introduced preliminary plans to improve South Roosevelt Boulevard from Bertha Street to the end of Smathers Beach.
The design for that project won't be finished until summer 2015, he said, but will include the addition of three pedestrian crosswalks, and improvements to the roadway, promenade, drainage systems and the seawall.
Toghiani closed his presentation with questions from the audience. Greg Sullivan, regional director of Waste Management, asked if the U.S. 1 project would repair the large "dip" at the entrance to Boca Chica Bridge.
Heads nodded in the audience, as people recognized the spot that Sullivan mentioned.
"Yes, all such issues in that area will be repaired," Toghiani said.
"You think it's bad in a car," Sullivan said. "You should try going over it in a truck."