Friday, March 12, 2010

Flagler Reconstruction

There has been a great deal of discussion in the Citizen newspaper about how the clean up on Flagler Avenue turned out. Silly me, I thought it looked pretty good for months and months of street closure. I guess I wasn't looking closely enough because people have been calling in to the Citizen's Voice (the anonymous complaints page) complaining endlessly. I stopped by to have a look.The plan was to take several blocks of Flagler where the street coming into town went from four lanes to two, throw in some sidewalks and give it a clean up. Property owners complained because they had been encroaching a little bit here and there and suddenly the city wanted it's offsets back, but the work went ahead, turning the gravel lined country road back into a proper city street.The former street edges looked rather ragged like the one in the picture above, which is a side street where the new sidewalk ends. The sidewalks are still in the process of drying off at various intersections but Flagler now has curbs the whole way: The city also paved some of the parking lots lining Flagler, how much exactly depends on the elevation change after the repaving. Here we see someone with an over sized truck making good use of the new sidewalk:
These are the ramps to allow wheelchairs (and bicycles) easy access: And Discount Auto gets a whole new lot as they allowed the city to park construction vehicles on their lot during the months and months of work.Flagler Avenue is one of three main arteries into and out of Key West. It is less utilitarian (and slower) than North Roosevelt and less pretty (and faster) than South Roosevelt (which has no traffic lights). It gives access to New Town as it runs right down the middle and it will land up at Casa Marina, Flagler's old palatial hotel, or the southern end of Duval Street. Lots of people depend on Flagler Avenue.So instead of being glad that the stretch between First Street and White Street is now smooth and clearly marked we've heard from people who say it is not bicycle friendly. In Florida it is legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk yielding to pedestrians. Others say the cut outs are confusing and one is liable to hit them. The opposing voices say they are only a problem if driving drunk, a sentiment with which I tend to agree.
Others argue that some parking spaces have been lost as now there is only parking on the outbound (south) side of the street. True enough but fortunately there are lots of side streets. Another solution might have been to take the houses on one side of the street and continue Flagler as a four lane street though I would argue that might have been excessive, and expensive. But some people want everything. I think the finished result looks good. Here is Flagler graded into the Conch Train Roundhouse parking lot:
Looking west toward White Street:
They have even planted trees though I thought Mike Mongo's suggestion (one his less implausible ones) of planting mango trees wasn't at all bad. I expect some would complain that people might get hurt picking the fruit or something, were the city to be so radical. There's always someone ready to complain as we have seen.I wondered what the sparrows saw from their perch, a clean street or a mess of curbs?
This skateboarder had no trouble negotiating the sidewalk: I could easily walk a dog down here:
Even viewed from the front seat of my kennel the new Flagler looks as easy to drive as ever was:

Nope, I see nothing but good that came from this intervention by Big Government. As you can tell, in the midst of a Depression we are pretty bored here in Key West with nothing worse to argue over than the shape of a sidewalk cut out.


I also have a wordy essay posted here: