BY C.S. GILLBERT

If Roosevelt Boulevard is the dog, the Florida Department of Transportation on Tuesday evening unveiled plans for two upcoming local projects that could be considered the head and the tail, connected but dealing mostly with new territory. Both will involve milling and repaving Route One, first from the Cow Key Channel bridge to MM 9.8 on Big Coppitt Key, then from Whitehead to Eisenhower on Truman Ave.

 

Billed a public meeting both in the press and in a notification received by residents shortly beforehand and available at the sign-in table, the gathering at the Harvey Government Center was instead more an exhibit, with engineering plans available to see and engineers on hand to answer questions.

 

Approved plans for the first project are due next July, approximately on completion of the multi-year Roosevelt construction; work should begin soon afterward and take about eight months, according to Ali Toghiani, senior project manager for the FDOT. It will include improved drainage and a bicycle path to connect to the Heritage Trail now ending on Big Coppitt. “Sidewalks at last,” from Cow Key to MacDonald, approved Sam Holland, who owns businesses in the area. Designated bicycle lanes will also be marked. “It’s a vast improvement,” he said.

 

This project will “connect everything that was done here” on Big Coppitt recently, which included turn lanes, paving and striping, said Evilio Chavez,  a designing engineer with  the privately-owned engineering company CSA, contracted by FDOT, who described himself as “engineer of record” on the projects. “Wherever possible we will deal with drainage,” he said, noting impediments of “mangroves, wetland and endangered species” habitat.

 

The Truman Avenue work will begin in 2016, they said, and will last about four months. Engineer Rafael Aguilar of CH Perez and Associates, engineer of record for this leg of the project, was on duty at the tables displaying aerial views of Truman Ave.  He could not offer an explanation why the stretch of the avenue from White St. to Eisenhower Dr., which was torn up within the past year as part of the Roosevelt Blvd. construction, was being redone so soon.  “I’m not familiar with how long ago, but the aim is to update, to improve. . . . The intent is to improve the ride-ability.”

 

The portion of lower Truman between Whitehead and Emma streets were not to be repaved. “It’s not a state road” at this point, said Aguilar.

 

Not all who attended were pleased. A resident who did not wish to be identified but said she lived near the Whitehead end of the construction was concerned that the work would restrict access to her home. She pointed out that the meeting notice, which her husband received only two days prior, advertized the event as a public meeting. “I expected a presentation, when people could comment,” she said. “How can you ask questions if they don’t make a presentation?”

 

Additional public meetings were promised.

 

“It’s not as if public outreach ends here,” said Chavez. “It’s more like it begins here.”