Month-long closure of Florida Avenue in Lakeland begins, causing extra congestion downtown

CSX and FDOT improving road and rail crossing

LAKELAND, Fla. - April may be a rough month for people trying to get around downtown Lakeland. Construction crews shut down a chunk of one of the city's busiest roads.

CSX and FDOT are improving the road and rail crossing on Florida Avenue just north of Main Street. The project is supposed to make it a smoother road to travel.

Just a few days into the detour, and some drivers are lost.

"I wish (the signs) would be better organized," said Wayne Morrison, who was looking for a business on a street just off Florida Avenue.

Florida Avenue connects north and south Lakeland, and runs through the heart of downtown.

The main detour around the closure, takes drivers away from downtown, but many drivers are finding their way onto downtown side streets, causing another issue.

"I've been here for a long time at this location, and every road where I turned this morning, there was way more congestion than I had ever seen," said Robby Sampson, Branch Manager at the Mortgage Firm in Lakeland.

Besides a longer commute for his employees, the office also has to contend with loud construction noise.

"By eight o'clock this morning, it was really loud," he said. "It was shaking the building, so it was pretty loud out there."

Some retailers have complained about the loss of business due to heavy congestion. The city listened, but is asking for a month's worth of patience.

Leaders of the project say it'll be worth it in the end.

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