More than $8 million worth of public infrastructure projects in Pensacola could soon be ready to move forward as they seek approval from the federal government.
The 10 projects, which vary from a 1.3-mile greenway park beneath Interstate 110 near downtown Pensacola to planning for a massive commerce park adjacent to the $1 billion Navy Federal Credit Union campus, are set to be funded from fines resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
As part of a 45-day public comment period that began in June, citizens have until midnight on Wednesday to provide public comment on the proposed projects.
The RESTORE Act allocates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, which is comprised of five funding components including the Direct Component which provides funds directly to each of 23 Gulf Coast Florida counties.
As part of the established funding agreement, each of the 23 eligible Florida counties must submit a Multi-year Implementation Plan (MYIP) with proposed projects to the U.S. Treasury, where they will face final approval.
Officials said the $8.6 million in projects facing approval are just the beginning of nearly $71 million that’s expected to come to Escambia County over the next 14 years.
In 2012, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners established the citizens RESTORE Advisory Committee to establish criteria, review, and rank 124 separate project proposals. Last year, the five commissioners chose two projects each for their districts to be included in the multi-year implementation plan.
Once the comment period closes, RESTORE staff will review and address comments in the MYIP. Escambia County will submit the MYIP to the U.S. Treasury Department for a 30-60 day review and approval process. The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners anticipates voting to accept the approved MYIP in September.
Upon approval, Escambia County is set to begin individual grant applications for the projects included in the MYIP. It is anticipated that final adoption of grant awards will occur in January 2018, with projects beginning shortly thereafter.
The projects to be included in the first round of funding include:
1. The Carpenter Creek and Bayou Texar Economic and Environmental Revitalization Plan
2. Project Universal Access
3. Perdido Key Gulf of Mexico Beach Access
4. Perdido Key Multi-Use Path
5. OLF-8 Commerce Park Improvements
6. South Dogtrack Drainage Project
7. Eleven Mile Creek Restoration
8. Eleven Mile Creek Basin
9. Hollice T. Williams Stormwater Park and Greenway