Today–10 days after visiting Flagler Beach and seeing the devastation of Hurricane Matthew there firesthand–Gov. Rick Scott ordered the Florida Department of Transportation to expedite the restoration of two-way traffic on A1A in the city, and have it opened again by early December–much faster than earlier estimates–according to a release posted on the governor’s website.
The transportation department, in response, said restoring traffic there is now the Number 1 priority in the state.
The transportation department, the governor’s office said, will immediately proceed with an emergency procurement that will result in the reopening of A1A no later than 45 days after contract execution. That’s quite a bit sooner than the timelines local officials projected just Wednesday, when they first spoke publicly of the plan afoot to reopen the road, in an emergency measure, within three to four months.
The repairs considered at the moment will not be the permanent fix, but merely a reopening of the road as two lanes to ensure that traffic flow on A1A is restored, and to provide relief to businesses along A1A that have lost that traffic since the hurricane struck, demolishing a 1.4-mile stretch of road.
About 3,000 feet of that stretch at the south end of the damage will actually be repaired within days. Traffic has been diverted to Central Avenue since the disaster, to the displeasure of residents there.
“Getting our communities back to work as quickly and safely as possible is our number one priority and we must make A1A operational as soon as we can,” Scott said in the statement issued today. “That’s why I’ve directed FDOT to use all available resources to get A1A reopened as soon as possible. This expedited timeline will get residents and tourists back onto A1A so that families and businesses in the area can get back on their feet and return to their normal routines.”
The contract for restoration is expected to be executed over the weekend, and construction will begin early next week. Once the contract is in place, the contractor will have no longer than 45 days to restore north-south traffic flow to the impacted area of A1A. That measn the road could be open again by early December.
“Restoring north-south traffic on A1A is the number one priority in the state for FDOT,” Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold said, “and we have been working diligently since the storm passed to assess what needed to be done. We are now ready to procure the necessary services to complete this task without delay, and we will bring every resource the state has at its disposal to complete this project quickly. At the same time as we work to implement this intermediate fix to get A1A up and running, we will continue to work with our community members and elected officials to develop a more permanent solution for the section of road that was impacted by the storm.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was in Flagler Beach, surveying the damage and assuring local officials that the federal government would both pay for the majority of the permanent fix to !a!, along with the restoration of the beach through dredged re-nournishment, but he would do what Scott is now doing: ensure that the process is expedited.,
The State of Florida and FDOT are responsible for reconstructing and reopening A1A, and all aspects and phases of the project will be managed and overseen by the agency. This will include installing temporary lanes on A1A in both northbound and southbound directions. Those will be 10-foot-wide lanes, as opposed to the usual 12 feet, and the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph.
The new lanes will shift A1A farther to the west, encroaching on right-of-way but not private property, with southbound traffic using newly constructed temporary pavement. The existing lane that did not sustain extensive damage will be made traffic-ready and will be utilized by northbound traffic.
FDOT will also shorten the detour on the north and south sides of the impacted area, giving access to more businesses and homes, and lowering the number of vehicles using South Central Avenue as a thoroughfare. FDOT efforts to shorten the detours, as well as additional work on impacted areas to the north and south of the washed out section of A1A, are already underway.