Community members who’ve been waiting to weigh in on a proposed redesign of Navy Boulevard in Warrington got their chance this week during a public kick-off meeting for improvements to the road.
More than 50 people attended an open house at the Lexington Terrace Community Park in Warrington to discuss the project, which is still in the conceptual stages. The proposed plan calls for the development of a complete-street concept for the corridor between Bayou Chico and New Warrington Road, which was built shortly after World War II as a new route to Naval Air Station Pensacola and Corry Field.
The Florida Department of Transportation is leading the project, which they said is intended to evaluate the development of a complete-street concept that is safe, operationally efficient, accommodates bicycles, pedestrians and transit, meets FDOT and permitting agencies standards, handles stormwater, and achieves the desired redevelopment goals while providing access to adjacent parcels and side streets.
Beginning this year, FDOT will be conducting a Project Development and Environment study to analyze the existing 1.4 miles of roadway, evaluate community needs and impacts, and develop proposed conceptual improvements along the corridor. The study is expected to be complete next year.
The proposal to redevelop the roadway originated in the 1990s, when Escambia County officials adopted the Warrington Redevelopment Plan. The plan called for a rethinking of the roadway with the addition of sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and parking.
In 1997, a schematic urban design plan was prepared for the Navy Boulevard corridor. Phase one of the plan has been implemented along North Navy Boulevard; however, West Navy Boulevard is still in need of revitalization according to officials.
The redevelopment plan was subsequently updated in 1999, 2001, and 2010. In 2011, the “Navy Boulevard Design Guidelines and Corridor Management Plan” was prepared by the CRA. This plan called for the creation of a new identity for Navy Boulevard themed on antiques and arts to promote new infill and redevelopment opportunities.
An attempt to redesign the roadway in 2014 has been brought back to the drawing board by FDOT, primarily consisting over concerns of vehicle access to businesses along the roadway conceptualized in the 2014 plan.
The plan envisioned the reduction of traffic lane width from 12 to 11 feet, constructing curb and gutter drainage improvements, removing the continuous center and left turn lanes, provide a center landscaped median with room for left-turn lanes, and repurposing of the existing 200 foot wide right-of-way to provide frontage roads with shared business parking along with pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.
Even though Navy Boulevard is a state road, Escambia County officials said the county will be funding the multi-million dollar project, not FDOT.
Several steps remain before the county will decide whether to proceed with detailed design and engineering work for the roadway. This summer, a corridor alternatives public meeting is scheduled, followed by the next public meeting in spring 2018. The PD&E study is scheduled for completion in September 2018.