Gulf Islands National Seashore officials said Wednesday that work has begun on multiple road improvement projects on Fort Pickens Road and Highway 399, also known as J. Earle Bowden Way.

Fort Pickens Road runs from Pensacola Beach westward through the Fort Pickens Area of the park. J. Earle Bowden Way runs eastward from Via de Luna through the park’s Santa Rosa Area to Navarre Beach.

Both roads will remain open during the projects, but there will be occasional single-lane closures and parking lot closures. All work is expected to be completed in March 2017.

In the Fort Pickens Area, 4.45 miles of the road will be resurfaced. About a mile and a half of the road will be realigned to the north, moving the it further away from the Gulf in hopes of reducing the frequent road closures caused by storm overwash.  Survey work along Fort Pickens Road is already underway, and officials said the primary work is expected to begin in late October or early November.

Seven and a half miles of J. Earle Bowden Way will also be resurfaced. Parking lots will begin closing this weekend as the contract starts milling work, and primary work is expected to begin in October.

The projects will extend the lifespan of both roads, improve striping, and in the case of the realigned section reduce the number of closures caused by storms, officials said.

“Maintaining park roads, like all park facilities, is an important part of providing a safe and enjoyable experience for park visitors,” said Park Superintendent Dan Brown. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience while we complete this work.”


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