More than two months ago work stopped on the $4.1 million roundabout project at U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway. The project, according to a Florida Department of Transportation spokesman, was “considerably” ahead of schedule. So far ahead that utility companies hadn’t had time to catch up and move their lines. That was to be done by the end of April.
Whether it was or not, work substantially did not resume at the end of April. Nor at the end of May. Nor at the end of June. “They stopped working there approx nine weeks ago,” Flagler County Engineer Faith Alkhatib said today, citing the same issues that DOT had cited in April. “They are ready right now to move back to the job.”
“There has been zero progress since I was there over a month ago,” a local official said after driving by today. “No equipment or workers on site. It’s like it has been abandoned.”
The county has nothing to do with the project: it’s entirely a state project contracted to P & S Paving of Daytona Beach. Al-Khatib had to contact the project engineer to figure out why it had been delayed. It was already considerably late when it started. And over-budget. Initial projections were for a $2.9 million contract. Then came the delays after it started, with Florida Power and Light and AT&T contractors having to move their lines. “They’re done with all these issues and they’re going to be mobilized there next Monday, July 8,” al-Khatib said. She said the workers are to be on the job 24 hours a day.
The state transportation department never acknowledged the delays beyond an interview with a spokesman in April, never explained why they were extended past April, and never announced when work would resume. Until today. It issued a release that described a “transition” to the next phase of construction with “continuous closure” and detours for at least four days, beginning on July 14. And Steve Olsen, a DOT spokesman, responded to a FlaglerLive inquiry, confirming the delays and explaining them further.
“Part of it was due to utility work,” Olson said. “There also were some modifications that had to be made in the construction plans to accommodate elevation changes at the intersection. This required time to redesign. The new plans [are] also meant restricting traffic flow from Old Dixie Highway and County Road (C.R.) 325 to make the process work, and work in a safe manner. Thus, the need for the four day closure to get in, construct and then restore traffic—followed by work on the next step.”
The next step “is needed to reconstruct these roads and make the connection to the new roundabout at US-1,” Rafael Rodriguez, the DOT project manager, told al-Khatib in an email Tuesday.
That phase of construction is scheduled from 7 p.m. July 14 (Sunday) through 7 p.m. July 18 (Thursday). During the closure, the contractor for FDOT will use electronic message boards and other signage to direct traffic through the detours. It’s not clear what construction would take place starting July 8, if any.
The expected closures and detours are as follows:
C.R. 325: All traffic will be directed to take C.R. 325 north, turn right onto Slow Drift Turn, and left onto Sloganeer Trail to Seminole Woods Boulevard.
• Drivers heading to northbound U.S. 1 will turn left onto Seminole Woods Boulevard to U.S. 1.
• Drivers heading to southbound U.S. 1 will turn right onto Seminole Woods Boulevard, and right onto State Road (S.R.) 100 to take southbound I-95 to U.S. 1 (Exit 273).
Old Dixie Highway
• Traffic heading to southbound U.S. 1 will take Interstate 95 (I-95) south to Exit 273 for U.S. 1.
• Old Dixie Highway traffic heading to northbound U.S. 1 can take I-95 north to S.R. 100 (Exit 284) and travel east to southbound Seminole Woods Boulevard to U.S. 1.
During these closures, Trojan Road will be available from both northbound and southbound U.S. 1 to access local businesses. See the map below. Once C.R. 325 and Old Dixie Highway are open, the contractor will close Trojan Road to build that connection. During this phase, access to C.R. 325 and Old Dixie Highway will be available to and from northbound U.S. 1. Southbound U.S. 1 traffic heading to Old Dixie Highway or C.R. 325 will be directed to make a U-turn and return using northbound U.S. 1. Traffic heading from Old Dixie Highway or C.R. 325 to southbound U.S.1 will go north on U.S. 1 and make a U-turn.
This transition moves traffic into the configuration that allows construction of the southbound lanes of the new roundabout. This configuration will be in place for several months and has northbound U.S. 1 traffic using the new northbound lanes of the roundabout. Southbound U.S. 1 traffic will remain where it is now. However, southbound traffic will not be able to make left turns onto Old Dixie Highway, C.R. 325 or Trojan Road.
The planned roundabout is intended to reduce the lethality of one of the county’s most dangerous intersections, though construction itself has been a contributing factor in at least one grave crash, in March. A Florida Highway Patrol report attributed the cause of that crash to carelessness or negligence, but also described the driver who caused the crash as striking the curb dividing the narrow northbound lane from the southbound lane, and crossing into oncoming traffic–a sequence of events that would not normally have happened but for the narrowed travel lanes. (An earlier version of this story had incorrectly attributed the cause of the crash to construction alone.)