The return of two-way traffic to all 2.5 miles of the under-construction North Roosevelt Boulevard has received rave reviews from some of Key West's most ardent government critics.
A group of New Town business owners previously up in arms over the one-way traffic pattern that ensued when the state started the roadwork April 23, 2012, formally thanked Florida Department of Transportation officials in a recent letter.
"Traffic is much better, and we are quickly beginning to regain the business we lost in the year the one-way street diverted our customers," Dale Ranson and Rick Boettger wrote on behalf of the Coalition of North Roosevelt Affected Businesses.
And one of the city's constant skeptics raved about the big change.
"I love it; I now go up North Roosevelt," Christine Russell told city commissioners during the public comment period of Wednesday's meeting. "I want to thank everybody for the two-way traffic on North Roosevelt. I haven't heard one person say it hasn't worked. I think it's much safer."
Despite the praise, DOT spokesman Dean Walters issued a "special caution" alert as part of his latest weekly project update citing "numerous close calls recently between bicycles and cars entering and exiting driveways along North Roosevelt Boulevard."
This is an all-caps situation.
"PLEASE BE AWARE," Walters wrote. "Drivers, please watch for bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicyclists and pedestrians, please be aware that drivers may not see you about to cross their paths."
At issue is a new crosswalk painted in white across the lanes in the 2600 block near Choice Storage Centers.
North Roosevelt Boulevard doubles as both the island's version of big box retail shopping and a residential neighborhood of condominium complexes, apartments and homes, such as Hilton Haven Drive, which is behind Banana Bay Resort.
Florida law provides pedestrians with plenty of rights when it comes to crossing roads. Walters said the argument of who's right isn't as important as keeping everyone safe.
"Nobody wants to get hurt or be responsible for someone being hurt," he said Friday.
There have been reports of dust-ups, but Walters said he hasn't heard of any serious injuries due to the crosswalks or driveways, which can pop up on bikers using the assigned path.
Still, he did acknowledge that the law requires drivers to slow or stop for pedestrians crossing streets.
Drivers at crosswalks "shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger."
Even at spots where there are no traffic signals or signs, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the road, according to the same statute.
However, Florida does attach some restrictions for walkers: "No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield."
When the $42 million road project is complete, Key West will have a new traffic light guiding the intersection outside of the Searstown complex, Walters said.
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad, while in Key West in August, vowed the project, which is replacing the city's drainage system and seawall along with new asphalt and sidewalks, will meet the original July 21, 2014, deadline.
The project, awarded to The de Moya Groupof Miami, was 69 percent complete as of Friday -- day 564 of 820.
In the meantime, Walters said, the state will keep reminding drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to stay on the safe side by keeping an eye out for each other.