According to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, $237,500 in federal funds has been designated for the widening project of U.S. Highway 331 by the federal government along with an additional $95,000 towards the widening project of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge. The funding was secured by Sen. Nelson and U.S. Representative Jeff Miller in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill following several years of visits to Washington, D.C. by Walton County commissioners and administrative leaders.
Senator Nelson announced the appropriation to Walton County commissioners Kenneth Pridgen, and Cecilia Jones, and other county officials during their visit with congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. March 13. President Obama had just signed the bill, which included the funding for Walton County.
Federal funding for widening U.S. 331 is the No. 1 priority for Walton County, says County Administrator Ronnie Bell. “This is the first time we have received federal dollars for this project,” he says. “Although our request to federal leaders for this project is $7 million for widening the highway and $5 million for widening the bridge, the $332,000 awarded for these projects will enable us to secure future funds more easily,” he says.
Rep. Jeff Miller agreed with county leaders that U.S. 331 plays a major role in public safety and economic development. “Highway 331 is a critical north/south artery for Walton County and the entire length of Northwest Florida,” he says. “This expansion means reduced traffic, ease of evacuation in case of a hurricane, and a potential shot-in-the-arm for economic development. I appreciate the hard work of all those in Walton County who made this vision a reality.”
Senator Bill Nelson says this funding may be the beginning to future federal assistance. “Hopefully, this will help jumpstart these vital road projects,” says Nelson.