By DOTTY NIST
Ground was officially broken on March 26 for a project that had been years in preparation, the Inlet Beach Underpass.
Approximately 100 people attended the event hosted by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to mark the start of construction on this $5.6 million state Department of Transportation (DOT) project.
The lighted pedestrian underpass is to go under U.S. 98 on the east side of that highway’s eastern intersection with CR-30A in Inlet Beach, providing for non-interrupted flow of pedestrian access across U.S. 98. Objectives of the project include increasing safety at this busy intersection and mobility of pedestrian and vehicular traffic
Other improvements that are part of the project include enhanced pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks, adding a new U.S. 98 eastbound right turn lane for access to C.R. 30A southbound, and drainage upgrades.
DOT has explained that the underpass will be designed to stay dry and that a lift station accompanying the project will carry water collecting after rainstorms away from the structure.
The design will allow entry of pedestrians only, with cyclists able to walk their bikes through the underpass.
Partnering with DOT to make the underpass a reality have been the BCC, the Walton County Tourist Development Council, and Scenic Walton, a nonprofit organization composed of business owners and residents.
Plans are for Scenic Walton to partner with Walton County’s Cultural Arts Association in order for art work to be provided to adorn the underpass when completed.
DOT has provided the following information on lane closures for the project: “Lane closures will be limited to nighttime hours, 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Traffic shifts will be utilized to maintain the same number of lanes on U.S. 98 and C.R. 30A throughout construction. Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, property owners, and/or tenants may experience brief, intermittent access restrictions during the replacement of driveways adjacent to U.S. 98.”
DOT has created a Facebook page for the project, “My U.S. 98 at Inlet Beach.” Additional information is available online at https://nwflroads.com/projects/443360-1