"Come in, -- come in! and know me better, man! I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon me! You have never seen the like of me before!"
-- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
I normally write about the positive things in Key West. After all, I am trying to find buyers for houses in my little town. But today I feel compelled to warn of the worst nightmare new visitors and long time travellers will face in Key West this year and for at least a year or two to come: virtual gridlock. "Balderdash!", you say. "Nay, 'tis the truth." I reply. And I have pics to prove it.
The State of Florida Highway Department started a two year project to improve US 1 from the eastern entrance onto the Island of Key West to the corner of White Street and Truman Avenue at the west. US 1 is now a one way (west bound) two lane road from the east of Key West to Palm Avenue.
As you approach Key West you will have two choices to make as to which direction to take. Turn Right if you wish to drive to Old Town. This is still the easiest and fastest route. If you are staying at any of the Atlantic Ocean side resorts such as the Doubetree, Sheraton, or Casa Marina, turn Left and proceed on South Roosevelt Boulevard. Travel on South Roosevelt is not affected by the construction delays.
If you are headed toward Old Town be advised that there may be active construction on the right side of the roadway. A concrete barricade separates traffic from the construction, but the big equipment and commotion may serve as a distraction while driving.
Businesses on the left side of the road are still open. Ingress and egress is much more difficult as traffic tends to speed by making turns more difficult. It helps to know where you want to go and to be ready to turn at the appropriate time.
|Right after I took this pic a woman on a bike went to the ground|
Finding businesses on the right can be difficult if you are not familiar with Key West. And even locals who know the general location of businesses may have difficulty finding turning lanes. The highway department has installed blue signs that advise of turn lanes to specific businesses such as Home Depot Walgreen's. These turn lanes are small so you need to slow down to make the turn. If you overdrive the turn location, you may have to drive around the island to get back. This is not an overstatement.
When you make it to the intersection of Palm Avenue you have the option of driving forward on N. Roosevelt which becomes Truman Avenue about six blocks to the west (at the corner of Eisenhower Drive). At this point the road becomes a two way street again. Or, you can turn right onto Palm Avenue which becomes Eaton Street in about ten blocks. Either Truman or Eaton will get you into the heart of Old Town where you should park your car and leave it.
|Two lanes suddenly become only one going forward! And that lanes becomes two way traffic!|
White Street has become very congested, especially around the time when the Glen Archer School children go home for the afternoon or anytime when a Conch Train or trolley go through this busy corridor. Both the crossing guard and the tour operators slow normally slow traffic to a near standstill. Be prepared to wait.
When you get to corner of Flagler Avenue at 1st Street (which becomes Bertha Street) you will probably sit through one or two traffic cycles which take several minutes. As you head east on Flagler be prepared to stop again as school traffic guards let the high school kids out and impose the 15 mph speed limit.
Look for the blue signs on Flagler that advise you where to turn to reach businesses on North Roosevelt. Drive slowly as you will be going through residential neighborhoods with lots of stop signs and kids on bikes. South Roosevelt is an alternative to Flagler Avenue, but it does not provide any access other areas.
Marley is still dead: to finish. Key West is alive and a wonderful place to call home. If you have to drive here, be safe. When you get here, walk or ride a bike. Have a Happy Holiday in-spite of the Ghost of Christmas Present that the Florida Highway Department has bestowed upon us.