Key West Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People Top 10 Stories for 2020 – #5: Duval and Simonton Rebuilt and Repaved. But…

By Chris HamiltonDecember 28, 2020

Whether you drive, ride a bike, or or get around on a scooter, there’s just something so very nice about new, smooth, clean pavement. Right? So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when our City rebuilds two major arteries, Duval Street and Simonton Street, as well as some adjacent blocks, in the heart of downtown, all in one year, that it is a big freakin deal. Especially in a city that isn’t known for good pavement.

So when the City shutdown in late March, the Mayor swung into action and moved up the Duval Street repaving project, that wasn’t supposed to happen until late summer. This was no ordinary repaving project as it included literally tearing up and rebuilding much of the street and sidewalk intersections before it could be scrapped, paved and repainted.

“The project includes upgrading curb ramps and driveway cuts to ADA standards, milling, paving, repairing trench failures and redoing pavement markings.” 

City spokeswoman Alyson Crean in a City press release at the end of March

The Feel Good Story of the Year

Wall Street, Greene Street, and Front Street were included in the project. Simonton Street was already slated to start at the same time. Since the Duval project was being done between Wall and Truman Streets, the Mayor asked Public Works to paint the curbs, re-stripe the streets, paint the streetlights and clean the sidewalks between the new Duval Pocket Park and Truman on the upper end where rebuilding had been done previously. That way the entire main street, from the Gulf to the Atlantic would look brand spanking new.

Every few days from the end of March through July we walked the length of Duval and documented the project in pictures. Each time we posted progress pictures on Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval/Historic Downtown Facebook page we’d get more and more positive reactions from citizens and Key West fans around the world. These posts remain our most popular ever. Seeing dozens of workers out there when everything else was shut down, remaking our main street, was a shot of positive news everyone needed and applauded. Yes, it was a big freaking deal that this project and Simonton Street got done. Got done quickly. And on budget and on time. Yay Key West.

But What About Streets for People?

So as much as we applaud the City for getting something done, that needed to be done so badly, we have to admit that we’re a little disappointed in the final outcome. Why? Because the City repainted the streets EXACTLY AS THEY WERE BEFORE. No new bicycle lanes or bike boxes at the intersections. No new pedestrian refuge. No traffic calming. No switching out some private car storage (parking) to put in more room for parklets or cafes or trees or art or space for benches, to say nothing of simply installing wider sidewalks in some places to cope with the crowds. The opportunity to try something bold was completely missed by everyone in City Hall. We’ve rebuilt a car-centric main street and Simonton Street in the heart of our little walkable, historic downtown. That’s just sad. Had ANYTHING different been done this would have been higher up on our list. As it is we’re happy for the smooth pavement. And THAT’s why it is our #5 story of the year.

We think this story in particular lends itself to pictures, especially as we took hundreds of them during the construction. So follow along below as we share a few of our Facebook posts and pictures to tell the story. In most cases you can click on pictures to enlarge them or link back to the original Facebook posts to find even more pictures. It was indeed an amazing project to witness.

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#6: Key West Transit Abandons Old Meandering Routes (December 27, 2020)
#7: Covid Recovery Plan’s Focus on Open Streets and Downtown (December 26, 2020)
#8: Some Progress on E-Bikes and Scooters Ordinance (December 23, 2020)
#9: FREE Fare on Duval Loop for Visitors is Back! (December 22, 2020)
#10: The Cow Key Bridge Carmaggedon That Wasn’t (December 21, 2020)

Some ways to make those streets more bike, walk, transit and streets for people friendly:
Key West #115 in Best Cities for Bikes List, June 10, 2020
Key West, Let’s Radically Speed Up the Implementation of Our Bike/Ped Plan, May 20, 2020
Can We Pedestrianize Duval and Still Allow Vehicles?, May 28, 2020
20 Parklets on Duval in 2020, April 28, 2020
Reimagining Key West – 3 Quick Wins for Revitalizing Duval Street, April 24, 2020

#5: Duval and Simonton Rebuilt and Repaved In Pictures

Project Gets Underway With Rebuilding at the End of March

Still Rebuilding at the end of April

Rebuilding is Followed By Scraping and Patching

Is Followed by Repaving/Laying New Asphalt

And Then Some Paint

Our World Famous Rainbow Crosswalks Are Redone

And Then the Cars Return

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

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