'In the final stages'': Kelly Street near complete

Savannah Vasquez
As the Kelly Street project wraps up, significant changes can be seen along the 0.77-mile project area, such as repaved roadways, new sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

One of the city’s major projects of the year, phase two of the Kelly Street improvement plan is nearing completion. The project that cost the city $1,001,784.03 saw the 0.77-mile stretch of Kelly Street from Calhoun Avenue to Benning Drive re-paved as well as installation of new sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and storm water drainage systems.

“It is in the final stages,” said City Engineering Assistant Joe Bodi. “We have four power poles that we have to relocate and it looks like we are going to have Gulf Power pull them this week. Besides that we have four other sidewalks to complete and that will complete the job.”

The improvements, which began in November, are now slated to be finished within the next two weeks. Although the original estimated completion was before spring break, Bodi said as far as the construction crew is concerned the project has been timely.

“Aside from waiting for the power poles to be relocated, they completed the project on schedule,” he said.

The Kelly Street project has been a long time coming, as City Manager Greg Kisela said in a previous interview that the project had been in the works since roughly 2006.

The improvement was the second phase in a two-part project that began with the repaving of Kelly Street from Main Street to Benning Drive which was completed in 2012. Kisela said the need for improvement stemmed from the fact that the road itself was estimated to be more than 50 years old.

For the second phase of the project, city engineers found that the condition of the five-way intersection where Stahlman Avenue, Flamingo Drive and Kelly Street meet was in the most dire need of repair, as that portion of the road had failed to the point of exposed clay.

Today, the intersection boasts brand new asphalt as well as curved islands to help with visibility, speed and guidance. The new bicycle lane has also been put in from Sibert to Benning Drive. Probably the most prominent feature however, is the eight-foot wide sidewalk on the south side of the road.  

“We had some rather mature oak trees that we were able to meander the sidewalk through and it really makes for a great pedestrian corridor,” said Bodi. “Initially, there were a whole lot of people not happy with the sidewalk being a lot wider, but we’ve heard a lot of good things now that they see it.”

When asked if there would be any additions to the project, Bodi said the city is finished with Kelly Street and is now looking eastward.

“At this point there are no further stages,” he said. “We are now moving to the Crystal Beach area and looking at Hutchinson Street. We are planning to improve that area by including a 10-foot wide pathway on the east side of the road and bicycle lanes on either side of the roadway.”