SAFETY HARBOR — Brace yourselves, downtown.
Main Street will soon be awash in orange — orange detour signs, that is.
At 7 a.m. Monday, Safety Harbor will close a block of Main Street between 10th and 11th avenues, sending the 10,000 cars that travel the road daily instead through neighborhood streets.
The city needs to replace 500 feet of water and sewer lines that are 70 years old, a process that could take 30 days.
"We're repairing them now because they are in such a shape that they will eventually cause a problem and people will be without service," said William Baker, the city's engineer and assistant manager. "We don't wait for them to break down. We replace them."
The affected area is largely residential. Homeowners can access Main Street at 11th Avenue, but not at 10th Avenue.
Vehicles that are eastbound on Main Street will be directed south to 11th Avenue, east to Delaware Street, then north on 10th Avenue to State Road 590. Vehicles that are westbound on Main Street will be routed north on 10th Avenue, west on Cherokee Street and south on 11th Avenue.
The street closing concerns business owner Tanya Parkes. She thinks she wasn't given proper notice.
"Clients are not just from Safety Harbor and only know one way in and one way out," said Parkes, who owns T&T's Hair Salon on Main Street. "They see a detour, are afraid they are going to get lost, turn around, call and say they can't get to us."
Nancy Vellucci lives on Cherokee Street, one of the residential areas where cars will be detoured. She said she hopes drivers will be respectful as they pass through her neighborhood.
"It's going to be kind of interesting having cars — lots of cars — go through," she said. "These kinds of streets have cars that park on the street. I know I won't be parking my car on the street."
Beth Becknell lives on Main Street between 10th and 11th avenues. She said the closure will be inconvenient, "but it's just part of life. You just gotta go with it."
This isn't the first time Safety Harbor has closed its main downtown artery. In 1996, the city shut it down for a streetscaping project.
"I liked it," said Becknell's husband, Don. "It really killed the traffic."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.