It's not been a barrel of laughs for drivers who carefully maneuver their way past hundreds of orange traffic barrels on State Road A1A the past two months.


But transportation officials say the lane shifting and blocked lanes, from Indian Harbour Beach through Indialantic, are all in the name of safety, which residents will see by the spring of 2020.


"We have heard complaints and we're working with the contractor, but it's something which will be much safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers when it's all done," said Jessica Ottaviano, communications specialist at the the Florida Department of Transportation's District 5 office in DeLand.


"We know that construction is going to have some impact to traffic, so I'm assuming you have people unhappy with that. But when you do crosswalks, and putting in sidewalks, you work on the entire corridor of both lanes of traffic."


Jack Rabel works directly off A1A in Indialantic and hasn't liked what he's seen so far.


"I know they're trying to avoid future problems; we have a lot of more condos, a lot more people," he said, "but, unfortunately, I've seen more accidents, fender benders, since (the barrels went up)."


The loan originator at Assurance Home Loans Inc., across from the DoubleTree hotel, said "the barrels make it more dangerous. People coming off the side streets turning left are almost blocked by the concrete (medians), it's ridiculous where they have placed them, and sometimes (drivers) come out and they get panicky (when they can't get into a single lane)."


Jan Futch lives on A1A in Melbourne Beach and "can't escape it," but she favors the orange barrels, although she hopes the international tourists understand the detour patterns.


"It slows drivers down and has everybody paying attention," said the former professional surfer who remembers when A1A was just two lanes and she and her friends would skateboard in their bikinis down the middle of the highway.


"Who I worry for is the construction workers. They're doing it the best way they can. I'll slow down all day long to save a construction worker's life or someone else's."


Ottaviano said the work zones, which encompass the medians as well as much of the right-hand lanes at this point, are created for the safety of the traffic and the workers.


"Some people have said they haven't seen workers, but just because they're not seeing workers ... I mean, it may be overnight, some are underground, some are utilities, some you don't see. You can't pave in certain temperatures, just so many factors," she said.


"And it takes more work to break down all those different work zones, so this way it's more efficient and will take less time to get the project done."


The construction project, led by Heavy Civil Inc., includes sidewalk extensions through the median. drainage work, new sidewalks in various locations, installation of directional and safety signage, and the installation of a dozen yellow-blinking crosswalks, known as RRFBs or rectangular rapid flashing beacons, along with paving.


Raised concrete pedestrian mid-block crossings within the median on A1A extend at various locations from US 192 (5th Avenue) to north of S.R. 518 (Eau Gallie Boulevard).


Kim Smith, the education and safety coordinator at the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization office in Viera, said its officials have circulated educational tip cards to students at nearby Indialantic Elementary and Hoover Middle schools.


"We're anticipating when those crosswalks become live, they'll know how to properly use them correctly," Smith said. "But the rules have never changed, always stop at the edge, and look before you cross."


Drivers should know the rules, too. Once a pedestrian is already in the crosswalk, vehicles must stop. And once the cars have stopped for pedestrians, vehicles may proceed slowly, even if the beacons continue to flash, if drivers make sure no one else is attempting to cross.


There are six such crosswalks in Satellite Beach, two in Melbourne and another in Cocoa Beach.


The hard plastic barrels with retro-reflectors (bounces back light) "might put a scratch or two" on your vehicle if you strike them, Smith said.


"But the goal is to not hit them," she said. "It's a small price to pay for safety."


New Mid-Block crossings coming to Indialantic area


South of 2nd Avenue


North of Watson Drive


North of Niemara Avenue


North of Flug Avenue


North of Boskind Road


North of Del Flora Street


South of Terrace Shores Drive


North of Pine Tree Drive


North of Poinsetta Street


South of Harris Blvd.


South of Coral Way


South of Atlantic Blvd. near Millennnium Beach Park


Contact Grossman at t321-242-3676 or hgrossman@floridatoday.com


This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.