By DOTTY NIST
The closed portion of CR-30A next to Redfish Lake will remain so for now as Walton County moves forward with plans to construct a bridge to replace the culvert that was undermined during recent heavy rains.
At the Aug. 27 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting at the Walton County Courthouse, the situation with the failed road section was pondered, with a course of action being identified after some discussion.
The commissioners first discussed getting a diver to go down into the lake and inspect the culvert to see if it would be possible to temporarily fix it and patch the road. However, the conclusion was reached that the wiser course would be not to waste money on a temporary solution.
District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows pointed out that there are alternate routes and suggested continuing with existing detours on the road section for the time being. She said she had received requests to reopen the pedestrian/bicycle path adjacent to the road section, and she was in favor of doing so if possible.
District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander expressed agreement on continuing the road closure and detours while working to get the bridge started.
The county has been seeking funding through the National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process to replace culverts on a number of the coastal dune lakes, including Redfish Lake, with bridges. However there is no certainty as to whether this funding will be approved or when.
The cost for a bridge to replace the Redfish Lake culvert had been estimated at $500,000. However, Walton County Public Works Director Wilmer Stafford told the commissioners that county staff should be able to do the project for approximately half that amount.
Walton County District 3 Commissioner Bill Imfeld suggested using funds from the Landfill Reserve account to pay for the project.
Billy McKee, Walton County environmental manager, told the commissioners that the Northwest Florida Water Management District had indicated willingness to expedite permitting for the project with their agency. However, permitting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engneers (ACOE) will also be necessary, and McKee cautioned that the ACOE would be “a different animal.” He estimated that the permitting process would take at least six months.
Meadows suggested that the county’s federal legislative delegation be contacted for help in getting the ACOE permitting expedited.
It was discussed that Preble-Rish, one of the three engineering companies under contract with the county for continuing services, had researched the project and was well prepared to assist with engineering services. Meadows observed that it would be expedient to have Preble-Rish provide these services for the project.
She moved to move forward with the bridge and assign the engineering services for the project to Preble-Rish. The motion was approved unanimously.
Staff received direction to reopen the pedestrian/bicycle path upon inspection and verification that it would be safe to do so.