Overpass to eliminate Marathon traffic and other problems
by Jacob Luther
Special to the Weekly
The Florida Department of Transportation announced plans this week for a Marathon overpass designed to “alleviate traffic” in the Middle Keys city.
The U.S. 1 Marathon Overpass, slated to be built next year, will run from Grassy Key to Seven Mile Bridge above the existing U.S. 1 roadway.
“We wanted to get started on this right away, since Marathon has been so vocal in the past,” FDOT Director of Operations Gus Pego might have said. “In an effort to head off future confrontations with the city, we’ll just avoid them altogether.”[pullquote]“In an effort to head off future confrontations with the city, we’ll just avoid them altogether.”[/pullquote]
FDOT spokesperson Will Thompson sardonically said the existing road will be dubbed U.S. 1 Business, and it will be abandoned to the city.
“We believe as the pavement crumbles and native vegetation reclaims it, we’ll be fulfilling any obligation we have to beautify this corridor,” Pego could have said.
Drawings also show FDOT plans to remove all lighting along the old road, illuminating only the overpass.
“We heard the complaints about the existing lighting having too industrial a feel to it. We thought we would go one better than the plan to turn off every other light and just take it all out,” Thompson tweeted.
One local businessman and city official who wished to remain anonymous said he had believed at first the city had finally won concessions from FDOT when informed that his fight over parking was no longer an issue.
“I got a letter saying FDOT had dropped plans for the Heritage Trail, and my parking could stay,” said the businessman turned politician. “This isn’t what I was hoping for … but I guess U.S. 1 doesn’t need to be two lanes here anymore. I can add a few more spaces out front.”
The ECMC Incredible Fruit Stand, which also had troubles with FDOT in the past year, immediately announced plans to move its stand 20 yards toward the Oceanside of Marathon, close to the outside lines and guardrails of the old U.S. 1.
The decrease in traffic – and business – has already led Marathon’s biggest chain retailer to pull out. Kmart announced plans to abandon its store in the next month. In a related move, the Brass Monkey announced plans to expand.
“This increased square footage will allow us to create a bigger stage for Freddie,” said the Brass Monkey owner Judy Sorenson. “But the icing on the cake will be when DOT moves that bus stop farther away from my business – even if it is straight up.”
In related news…
In a shocking move on Wednesday, the City of Marathon announced plans to forcibly annex two neighboring Keys communities.
While there had long been talk of bringing Duck Key onto the Marathon tax rolls – and county officials were heard saying “I told you so” before the story had even unfolded – the hostile takeover of Layton came as a complete surprise to even Marathon officials.
“Our original scheme was to bring our dear friends up in Duck Key into the fold, and I want to thank my fellow council members for helping us close the deal,” said Vice Mayor Dick Ramsay.
Mayor Snead admitted a simple clerical error resulted in the dissolution of Layton.
“As the paper work was being drawn up, and I want to thank staff for drawing that up, a few mile markers must have gotten transposed, and I want to thank our office computers for transposing that, and voila – we got Layton too!”
Layton was unavailable for comment.
The Marathon Fire Department immediately filed a request for a new, 200 foot ladder truck with the Marathon City Council.
“Monroe County won’t need to build a station at Conch Key now, but we’ll be needing to expand a bit,” said fire Chief William Wagner.
“I knew it!” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi and Monroe County Fire Chief James Callahan shouted in unison.