For those who can’t quite picture what the future of Highway 98 between Gulf Breeze and Fort Walton Beach may look like, the Florida Department of Transportation has provided a glimpse of possible plans leading up to a duo of public meetings on the future of the corridor later this month.
Among FDOT’s plans to meet anticipated future traffic demands, the agency is proposing a bypass of two major intersections in Navarre with the construction of interchanges at S.R. 87 and S.R. 399 at the Navarre Beach bridge.
In 2016, FDOT officials prioritized the expansion of Highway 98 in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties on its five-year work plan. The study area includes the 24.5-mile expanse of U.S. 98 beginning at Portside Drive in Santa Rosa County and ending at Mary Esther Boulevard in Okaloosa County.
On October 24 and 26, FDOT will hold public hearings at the Navarre Beach Conference Center to allow for public input on the project. The agency is asking citizens to review and speak with transportation officials about concerns on the agency’s Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study on the future plans to ease congestion along U.S. 98 in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties.
Officials said the study will also evaluate roadway safety, access management features, the efficiency of intersection operations, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities along the corridor.
The PD&E study is in the process of evaluating the “Build” and “No-Action” alternatives that have been developed to date. The “Build” alternatives feature:
• Widening U.S. 98 to six lanes via high speed urban (50 mph) or standard urban (45 mph) design criteria;
• Continuous bicycle lanes and new sidewalks;
• Interchanges at S.R. 87 and S.R. 399 in Navarre;
• Access management improvements, including adjustments to median openings and turning lanes;
• Widening U.S. 98 to six lanes in Mary Esther using standard urban (45 mph) design criteria; and
• Mary Esther improvements include reconfiguration of the median, new sidewalks, the addition of bike lanes and potential streetscaping.
In the Navarre area, the FDOT is considering interchanges at S.R. 87 and S.R. 399 where the U.S. 98 through traffic would travel on an elevated roadway.
Benefits to constructing the elevated bypass interchanges, according to FDOT, include easing congestion for through traffic on U.S. 98. Local commuters would use parallel frontage roads adjacent to each side of the U.S. 98 elevated lanes, increasing mobility to and from Navarre neighborhoods and businesses.
The study will take another two years to design and plan, FDOT officials said. Future phases of the project, including construction, are not fully funded.
Want to go?
Tuesday, October 24 & Thursday, October 26 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Navarre Conference Center, 8700 Navarre Parkway, Navarre,Fla.