Traffic frustrations around the construction zone at Old Kings Road and Palm Coast Parkway are about to ramp up for a few nights before they get better as the widening project, already weeks past its completion date, enters its final, paving phase.
There will be alternating road detours, lane closures and potential delays at night starting Tuesday and until Oct. 22, but only from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., when traffic is at its lightest. Halifax Paving, the contractor, will be milling and paving the 0.6-mile stretch of Old Kings Road that’s been widened to four lanes. It will also be making traffic-light adjustments at the Old Kings Road intersections with both Palm Coast Parkway and King’s Way, just north of the Parkway. While doing so, traffic will have to be regulated.
There are no precise schedules. “The road closures will really depend on the area that they are working,” a city spokesperson said, so traffic management and closures “will be evolving throughout the night and may start as a lane closure then move into a detour and then back into a lane closure as the work is progressing throughout the night.”
The first few nights the contractor will be focusing on Old Kings Road south of the parkway, laying the first layer of asphalt. Once that is complete, work will move to the north side of the parkway for the first layer. The whole thing then repeats for the second and final layer of asphalt, plus the striping. “We expect the asphalt to be done by end of week next week, depending on weather and work production. After that there is landscaping and other minor items to do,” the spokesperson said.
Traffic patterns, detours and closures are actually designed by the city, not the contractor.
“As part of the upfront design, we do an MOT–maintenance of traffic plan,” Carl Cote, the city’s director of engineering and stormwater, told the council during a workshop in March 2020, when he briefed the council on the project. “There’s multiple phases. So we basically tell the contractor how we want to do lane closures and the timing of that, of these very phases. We’re reviewing that upfront so the contractor knows what to expect and what he needs to plan for. He can’t do a full shut down, or shut down two lanes with one lane. We kind of strategize and minimize the impact to traffic. There’s obviously going to be some construction, it’s a very right corridor, lots and lots of utilities,” all of which had to move their wires. “So it’s going to be a lot of activity. It’s going to be roughly close to a year of impacts.”
“I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I drive that corridor, especially the northern half of it, four times a day on an average business day,” then-Council member Bob Cuff said at the time. “It’s a mess now, I’m sure this isn’t going to improve it until it’s done. Looking forward to it being done.”
The $6.5 million Old Kings Road widening project at Palm Coast Parkway started on July 27, 2020. It was supposed to be completed on Sept. 22. Its actual end date has been moved to Oct. 22, the paving being the last major task, though as of today the city’s dashboard placed construction at 70 percent complete. “A couple of change orders” have moved the substantial-completion date past the original completion schedule, the spokesperson said.
Though it’s past its due date, Halifax has not yet “surpassed the expected substantial completion date and has not begun being charged liquidated damages,” the spokesperson said. Those damages are built into the contract. But so are rain dates, when work is not possible, giving the contractor credit days that excuse a certain amount of delays.
The widening project is being paid for through a Florida Department of Transportation grant that the Palm Coast City Council ratified in March 2020. It’s tax dollars, of course, but state dollars as opposed to funds drawn from Palm Coast’s general fund. DRMP Inc. designed the project, which is only the first of three phases of construction on Old Kings Road.
Aside from widening the lanes from two to four and adding turning lanes at one of the city’s busiest intersections, the project is also adding curb and gutter, raised curbed grass medians and 8-foot wide sidewalks. Phase 1 stretches from Kingswood Drive to Kings Way, near the bowling alley. Traffic signals will also be upgraded from a span wire–basically, traffic lights dangling from wires–to a “mast arm” traffic signal, those more solid-looking, metallic arms that stretch high and sturdy across the road.
Florida Power and Light also installed new, LED street-lighting, an installation that required substantial infrastructure construction, for about $150,000, also covered by the transportation department. The city assumed the cost of installing new broadband fiber at the intersection.
Future phases cover the four-lane widening of Old Kings Road north of the Parkway, past Kings Way. Those phases have not been fully funded yet.