As island drivers grit their teeth and settle into the necessary evil of the North Roosevelt construction, the work plods steadily on, and as of this week is about 35 percent complete, said Dean Walters, project spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Walters spoke Wednesday at the Key West Chamber of Commerce monthly membership luncheon, where he was joined by Jacki Hart, the project administrator for FDOT.
The progress report reviewed the scope of the nearly 3-mile, $41.5 million project. Walters also briefed the members about the work that has been completed to date, which includes 85 percent of sewer installation, 40 percent of water line installation, 10 percent of drainage pipes and installation of seven of 21 underground water-quality structures.
The 21 "stormwater treatment boxes" will improve nearshore water quality, Walters said, by trapping and treating the stormwater that flows from the street into the surrounding waters.
The boxes remove sediment from the stormwater, capture 100 percent of floating trash, and remove oil and grease from the stormwater runoff, he said, adding that as of Wednesday, the project was about 5 percent behind schedule.
Wet weather has delayed the project, along with the discovery of several unexpected underground obstacles that crews have to negotiate when installing nearly 14 miles of underground pipes.
"We've found pipes in the ground that weren't shown on our plans," Walters said, adding that the ground is also much harder than expected in some places.
Works crews have been dealing with a tight workspace, equipment breakdowns caused by the unexpectedly hard ground and the challenges of maintaining access to all 170 businesses on the boulevard.
"So far we've removed 43 percent of the existing roadway and transplanted 157 palm trees," Walters said during the PowerPoint presentation at the Marriott Beachside Resort.
"But once we finish the digging and underground work, the work will move a lot faster," he said Wednesday, which was the 311th day of the 869 allotted in the construction contract.
Walters reviewed some of the ongoing public information campaigns, with an emphasis on keeping intersections clear.
"Do not block intersections," one of the slides stated.
Walters said such blockage is a ticketable offense, and is a major cause of traffic congestion throughout the city.
The other public service campaigns being promoted on the radio and in local media include reminders to "go south to go north," encouraging people to use the less-traveled South Roosevelt Boulevard.
Another reminds drivers to remember "the Golden Rule" -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- when navigating traffic and dealing with fellow motorists.
For more information, including project updates and specifics of the work being done, visit the FDOT's website, at www.fdotmonroe.com/keywest.