By LEAH STRATMANN
The only subject people talk about more than the weather is traffic and roads and the ongoing need for improvement to area roads. Road improvements are always limited to the availability of funds, so the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently held a series of public meetings to gather citizen input to help shape plans. The last of those meetings for 2008 was held in early December. This week The Herald obtained a copy of the tentative five-year work program for District Three, of which Walton County is a part, from Tommie Speights, FDOT public information director.
In March, the work program will be presented to the FDOT Transportation Commission. The next step is taking the program to the Florida Legislature in July for adoption.
“The largest ongoing project in Walton County is four-laning U.S. 331 from the Clyde B. Wells Bridge to U.S. 98. The construction cost is $10.4 million,” Speights said. “Weather permitting, late 2009 is the best estimate I can give you at this time for the completion of this project,” he said.
Nothing else in the plan calls for any additional work in Walton County to begin until 2010, when a $1.4 million preliminary engineering study to resurface U.S. 90 from the Okaloosa County line to east of Pine Street begins. Construction is in 2013, at a cost of $11.5 million. The stretch of road is a little over 14 miles. In 2012, another segment of U.S. 90 is slated to be resurfaced from Country Club Road to the Holmes County line. The cost is $7.2 million for the six-mile stretch of road.
Also on tap for 2010 is preliminary engineering work for 3.3 miles of I-10 maintained by the state from the overpass at CR-183 to the Holmes County line at a cost of $1.3 million. Construction is scheduled in 2012 at $9.2 million.
Three other projects tentatively planned to begin in 2010 should make moving around in Walton County a bit easier. Plans call for adding left turn lanes on U.S. 331 at CR-278 and the Coy Burgess Loop intersection at the bargain price of $494,000. Resurfacing of 1.9 miles of U.S. 98 from the new U.S. 98 alignment to west of Sandestin Lane in the south end of the county will cost $3.4 million. The final projects planned for 2010 include the preliminary engineering needed for resurfacing 1.4 miles of U.S. 331 from the north end of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge to South Bay Grove Road. The engineering work will cost $234,000, with the project cost estimated at $1.2 million.
In 2011, U.S. 331 will feature a new alignment from Owl’s Head to Edgewood Circle. Right-of-way for the 4.2 mile of road is anticipated to cost $5.4 million.