Starting Monday, June 27, Florida Park Drive will be closed to thru traffic for at least four months to accommodate a major utility reconstruction project. Local access will still be possible. But accessing either Holland Park or most of the neighborhoods along Florida Park Drive from Palm Coast Parkway will not be possible without a wide detour.
Much of the traffic that would normally funnel down Florida Park Drive from the north, to reach Palm Coast Parkway, would have to take Frontier Drive and get into the section that way, through secondary streets. Closure notification message boards have been going up on Palm Harbor Parkway and Farraday Lane. But Florida Park Drive will remain open from the north for all traffic accessing homes and streets north of Farraday.
The $1 million reconstruction project will completely shut down the intersection of Florida Park Drive and Farraday Lane. Farraday loops on the east side of Florida Park Drive, from near Veranda Way to the south to Ferdinand Lane to the north. The utility project will close the intersection at the south end of the loop. It will not affect entry into the Publix shopping center from the south. But that entrance won;t be accessible from north of the construction zone.
“Basically this whole intersection is going to be excavated,” Alexander Blake, a civil engineer with Palm Coast’s stormwater department, told the City Council in a brief presentation at the end of the meeting Tuesday. The presentation had not been on the published agenda, because it wasn’t completed until Friday, a city spokesperson said.
“There is an old, basically 40-year-old sanitary sewer lift station right in the middle of Florida Park Drive,” Blake said. “We’re going to convert that over to a standard manhole manual and then construct a whole new lift station.” The station is being moved out of the intersection to convert it to a pump station. “We’re going to try to make this as quick as possible. But it is a lot of deep excavation, we’re talking 18-20 feet deep, three different structures. You sometimes run into unknowns. So four months is our target but it could go longer.”
The old system has had issues. The city had to shut down the same intersection in November 2020 for a day, for repairs, requiring all of Florida Park Drive to be shut down to thru-traffic.
That means accessing Holland Park from the south, from Palm Coast Parkway, will not be possible. It’ll take going north on Old Kings road to Farragut Drive and re-accessing Florida Park Drive through Ferdinand or Farrington Lane. From the north, it’ll be easier, with access from Palm Harbor to Florida Park still open, since it is considered a “local” trip to the park. “Any of the local roads can access to Florida Park Drive off of any of these side roads, except for Farraday South,” Blake said.
The project was to be carried out in conjunction with the construction of two traffic-calming medians north of the project zone, following a decision by the council to install those. But that’s now on hold, because the median alterations pushed the project over budget, a city spokesperson said. “The only location that will be completely blocked and impassable will be down near Farraday Lane,” she said. The traffic-calming plan “It will go back to City Council for discussion in the coming weeks.” (See: “Xanax for Florida Park Drive: Residents Invited To Weigh In on Planned Traffic-Calming Islands.”)
“We want to keep traffic notified to not go down that way if they’re using that as a cut through to get to Palm Coast Parkway,” Blake said. “So it’s very critical at the beginning of the project that people become accustomed that, hey, I can’t come off Palm Harbor Parkway and drive to Palm Coast Parkway because they won’t be able to get to that intersection. They would have to come down and then detour down Frontier and then take Old Kings Road around to get to it.”
Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin wanted to ensure a “robust communication that will be ongoing for all residents, actually throughout the city but obviously focused in those neighborhoods.” He also recommended that every council member takes a guided drive-around of the impacted area. “What I want each of our city council members to be able to do is answer questions correctly and expertly and succinctly on what the detour and what the the effect on on on traffic will be.”
First responders, waste pick-up, schools, cops and firefighters have all been notified. Fire Chief Jerry Forte said both the fire department and the sheriff’s office’s computer-assisted dispatching system automatically re-routes those dispatched.
“The nice thing will be when the crews go out to do maintenance on this facility, they’re not having to shut down Florida Park Drive anymore,” Blake said. “They can actually do one lane on Farraday, it will be much safer for them.”
An potentially useful if ironic twist: for over a decade, Florida Park Drive residents have appeared before the city council to plead their case to reduce traffic on Florida Park Drive, down to reducing it to a local road, with bans on thru-traffic. The city has adopted various traffic calming approaches, but never gone so far as ending thru traffic. The construction project will, for its duration, create just such a situation, giving residents (and city traffic analysts, if they choose to put that period to use) a real-time chance to observe the parkway as a local-traffic only road, and to gauge the effect on city traffic overall in that area–with detours.
Florida Park Drive -June 21st