Florida Keys

The state will add a center turn lane to U.S. 1 on Sugarloaf Key

The state this year will add a center-turn lane to U.S. 1 at mile marker 20.
The state this year will add a center-turn lane to U.S. 1 at mile marker 20. Google Maps

After dismissing it as an option, the Florida Department of Transportation now says it will add a center turn lane on Sugarloaf Key along the Overseas Highway at mile marker 20.

“We have determined that this is desirable and will include the work in the current project,” said FDOT District 6 Secretary Jim Wolfe, in an email Wednesday to state Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo.

A southbound left turn lane will lead into the KOA campground site, which has been closed since Hurricane Irma struck Sept. 10, 2017.

Also as part of a $4 million construction project, FDOT will add left turn lanes into Mangrove Mama’s restaurant and Johnson Street westbound.

“I can’t wait until it gets done,” said Daniel Payne, kitchen manager at Mangrove Mama’s. “It just makes it a lot easier access to get on and off the property.”

Currently, the section of U.S. 1 has three lanes of pavement: one through lane westbound, one through lane eastbound and a right turn lane eastbound.

“We will re-stripe the road, eliminating the right turn lane, and stripe two through lanes and a left turn lane,” Wolfe said.

FDOT says it will reuse the existing pavement so it can add the center turn lane “without impacting the adjacent Heritage Trail or any environmentally sensitive areas.”

Work is scheduled to start in August and be completed within six months, Wolfe said.

Raschein said community members have been asking for the center turn lane and she also joined the effort asking Wolfe to reconsider the initial decision not to add it.

“The Secretary really heard the concerns that were raised about safety and the need for the turn lane,” Raschein said Thursday in an email.