BY ANDREAS BUTLER
There are fears that traffic could soon come to a standstill when construction begins on a section of a major roadway in Daytona Beach’s Midtown.
Road construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK) between Orange Avenue and International Speedway Boulevard is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 15.
The $2.67 million project will be a complete makeover of the area, including road surface, underground utilities, wider sidewalks, decorative lighting features and landscaping along with additional street parking on the east side of the road.
Meanwhile, local businesses some concerns.
“I just hope that they complete it within the time frame that they proposed. I don’t see the need for 8-foot sidewalks, which will make the road smaller and reduce parking,’’ said Robert Itani, who owns Quick Tire & Automotive Repair at 224 MLK Blvd.
“Right now you can park on both sides of the street. They are proposing parking on one side. There are a lot of cars that speed down the road and I’m concerned that they may hit those parking bumps proposed in the project.”
This road project brings up nightmares from the Orange Avenue road construction project, which lasted for more almost three years instead of the proposed two years. It led to lawsuits from businesses against the city.
Preparing for worst
One business in the construction zone is preparing for everything.
“I am prepared for it. I am ready to just basically shut down. I don’t see any traffic or customers really being able to get in and out of there. We hope it doesn’t get as bad as Orange Avenue did but we are prepared for the worst,” Oliver Ross, owner of the Crab Stop at 240 MLK told the Daytona Times. He also owns the Crab Stop on International Speedway Boulevard.
Some residents say they welcome infrastructure improvements.
“I don’t think it will be any trouble getting on and off the streets. We can come from the other side. I think it’s good they are fixing the roads and stuff. It’s needed. A lot of streets around town need fixing. A lot of areas need infrastructure improvements too,” said Freddy Brockington, who lives on El Dorado Street, which runs east to west between MLK and Lincoln St.
Residents also expect some inconvenience during the project.
Glynis Hart lives on Cherry St., which also runs east to west between MLK and Lincoln.
She expressed, “I went to the meeting that they had. I’ve seen the designs. I like it. I was concerned with manhole locations. I used to drive dump trucks. I’m familiar with road construction,’’ Hart said. “It’s going to be inconvenient. I expect it. People often want things to run smoothly and perfect, but it doesn’t. I can deal with it.”
The city hosted a meeting about the project in May at the Dickerson Center where residents got to voice concerns. That meeting was poorly attended by the community.
About the redesign
Also, during that meeting city officials stated that they both wanted to and expected to avoid problems that occurred during the Orange Avenue road construction project.
The City of Daytona Beach did not respond for comment by the Daytona Times’ Wednesday deadline.
According to the city’s website codb.us, after residents voiced concerns about manholes being in traffic lanes and extending the availability of reclaimed water, the city is redesigning underground utility lines to address those concerns.
The redesign is expected to shift sewer lines to the east and into the parking areas along the side of the roadway. This adjustment will move most of the manhole covers from traffic lanes, reclaimed water will also be made available to the landscaped bump-outs and to property owners from Orange Avenue to International Speedway Blvd.
The design work is expected to take several weeks but the project is projected to be completed sometime in March.
Meanwhile, work will begin on July 15 despite an electric sign on MLK stating it would begin on July 9.
Construction will also begin at the Magnolia Avenue intersection due to the underground pipes being deepest in that area.
The intersection will be completely closed north to south and east to west.
Traffic will be permitted from Orange Avenue north to the work zone and from International Speedway Boulevard south to the work zone. All through traffic will be routed around the area via Orange Avenue, U.S. 1, International Speedway Boulevard and Lockhart Street.
Pedestrian access will be maintained to the businesses within the work zone.