Dust flies into the wind while taking an abrupt right turn into the makeshift entrance of The Track Destin.
Neon orange traffic barrels curve inward, ushering patrons into the parking lot. It’s 3:30 p.m. on Monday and cars are already crawling toward the Marler Bridge.
The Track was crowded. Go carts whizzed around the racetrack, families putt putted from one hole to the next and the arcade was buzzing with children.
Despite the busyness inside the park, Vice President of Marketing Meg Norwood said the construction on U.S. Highway 98 has made it harder for people to find the entrance to The Track.
"The most difficult thing is for people to know where to actually make the turn into the park," Norwood said. "We’re trying to get people to use the Airport Road entrance. Customer safety is really the most important aspect."
According to Ian Satter, public information director for the Florida Department of Transportation’s third district, the construction is now entering into Phase II.
"Construction crews for the U.S. 98 widening project in Okaloosa County are making preparations for the Phase II traffic shift in the spring," Satter said. "The westbound travel lanes between Matthew Boulevard and the western boundary of Henderson Beach State Park will be shifted to the south to allow construction of the new westbound roadway."
Satter also said that until March 25, there will be no more lane closures due to the influx of spring break traffic.
"You’ll still see people working on the sides of the roads, but there won’t be any new lane closures. The lanes that are currently closed will stay closed," Satter said.
East of The Track Destin, just past the entrance to Henderson State Park, the lane shift has also affected popular tourist spot, Fudpucker’s.
"The construction makes it harder to get in and out of the parking lot," said Fudpucker’s co-owner Tim Edwards. "We’re not excited about the changes to come with the lane shift, but construction crews say that it’s going to be really nice when it’s all done."
It is estimated that the road widening project will be completed in the winter of 2020.