'Carmageddon' could end ahead of schedule

Road construction in Palm Bay nears completion

PALM BAY, Fla. - "Carmageddon" should be over by the end of next week.

A major road project that has shut down a section of Palm Bay Road in Palm Bay and West Melbourne is expected to be far enough along by May 9 to reopen the busy street to traffic, according to Brevard County Public Works Director John Denninghoff.

According to Local 6 News partner Florida Today, that's a month earlier than his originally projected date of June 11 for reopening the road.

Since the project began April 7, motorists have faced detours and had to use alternate routes.

The road closing involved a half-mile stretch of Palm Bay Road between Minton Road and Norfolk Parkway. It was required to replace a collapsed stormwater drain pipe under Palm Bay Road that was first discovered in late February. Emergency repairs were made, but a permanent fix was needed.

On an average weekday, about 75,000 motorists a day typically use that section of Palm Bay Road — one reason Denninghoff nicknamed the project "Carmageddon."

In a statement issued Monday, Denninghoff credited "superior performance" by the road crew and vendors, combined with unusually good weather that minimized lost days of work.

Denninghoff estimated that weather "cost us, at most, three days of progress" so far, compared with the anticipated two or three weeks.

This week, crews will begin installing the concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk, Denninghoff said. They then will reinstall guardrails and traffic signals, followed by asphalt work and restriping.

Denninghoff said some work will be needed for about 30 days after the road reopens, including additional milling and resurfacing work. But he said that work will be done at night "without general road closure — just individual lanes — to avoid severe traffic impacts."

Replacement of the stormwater drain with concrete pipe also includes reconstruction of Palm Bay Road at the intersection; and replacement and relocation of a traffic signal where Minton Road motorists turn eastbound onto Palm Bay Road, heading toward Interstate 95.

The new pipe has a larger opening, improving drainage in the area, and county officials say the work should extend the life of the culvert by 50 years.

Palm Bay Road has been closed eastbound from its intersection with Minton Road to Athens Road, and westbound from Norfolk Parkway to Minton Road.

Denninghoff said he appreciates "the cooperative attitude" of agencies, affected business owners and motorists as the project proceeded.

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