Officials with the Gulf Islands National Seashore said Friday that the Fort Pickens Area of the park should reopen by 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 3.

The area and campground were closed on Thursday after water and sand began to wash onto the road connecting the fort to Pensacola Beach. Officials said park road crews should complete their cleanup of the road Saturday morning to facilitate the reopening.

Weather-related closures have become a frequent occurrence in recent years as park officials struggle to maintain vehicular access via Fort Pickens Road. The seven mile-long stretch of road, first constructed in the 1950s, traverses a section of Santa Rosa Island which is narrow and undeveloped, leaving the road vulnerable to frequent washouts. The federal government has spent more than $25 million in recent years to maintain and rebuild the road.

Concerns over the long-term viability of Fort Pickens Road has prompted the National Parks Service to introduce a Pensacola Bay Ferry next year, which will connect Downtown Pensacola to Pensacola Beach and Fort Pickens. Service is expected to begin next spring.


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