MOT is a BFD.  That’s Maintenance of Traffic for those unfamiliar with transportation terminology. And it’s a big freakin’ deal, particularly when it comes to the twin bridges over Cow Key Channel that connect Key West with, well, the rest of the world.

Key West city commissioners on Feb. 19 heard from Florida Department of Transportation project managers as the D-Day date rapidly approaches for the dreaded Cow Key Channel Bridge reconstruction.

The entire project is scheduled to take place between March 16 and Dec. 30, but the anticipated nightmare of lane closures and traffic tie-ups will only occur from April 15 to Oct. 12, so all lanes will be open by Fantasy Fest.

“With regard to Maintenance of Traffic, we’re committed to maintaining three open lanes at all times, with two lanes open in the peak direction of travel,” said George Hoffman, a construction project senior administrator with FDOT.

In the morning, there will be two lanes coming into Key West and one heading out town. That will shift in the afternoon to accommodate two outbound lanes and one inbound lane.

Currently, the morning inbound schedule is from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the outbound shift is from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. 

He emphasized that the lane closures will only last 180 days, despite the longer duration of the entire project. Hoffman also emphasized that FDOT has offered contractors a total of $800,000 in incentives to complete each phase on time. 

“If they go beyond the completion date, then they start losing $17,500 per day,” Hoffman said. Work will be permitted 24/7, he said, but added that he doesn’t expect the contractors to work around the clock unless they fall behind schedule.

In addition to the lane closure on the bridge, traffic patterns will change on Stock Island. Left turns will not be permitted from College Road South onto U.S. 1. Left turns will be limited to College Road North, where a temporary traffic light will be installed, Hoffman said. Transportation officials pledged to closely monitor traffic and timing and adjust the lane schedules and traffic lights accordingly.

In addition, Mayor Teri Johnston confirmed with Hoffman that nine closed-circuit cameras will be installed to monitor traffic on and around the bridges in real time to expedite adjustments.

“This project is expected to cause great disruption and huge inconvenience to people,” Commissioner Sam Kaufman said. “But we really do thank you all for committing to just 180 days of lane closures and for including the bigger incentives.”

Cow Key Bridge repair
Public information meeting:
5 p.m. Wednesday, March 4
Key West City Hall

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