331 improvements - meeting

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by SoWalSally, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. SoWalSally

    SoWalSally Beach Fanatic

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    By Joyce Owen

    Walton County Administrator Ronnie Bell believes a November meeting is the county?s opportunity to present its pressing needs for U.S. Highway 331 to the Northwest Florida Transportation Corridor Authority or RTA.
    The RTA has a July 2007 deadline to develop and adopt a Master Corridor Transportation Improvement Plan for the U.S. Highway 98 Corridor system. That plan includes not only U.S. 98, but all feeder and connector roads, bypasses and bridges, as well as hurricane evacuation routes.
    Bell said county records indicate in 1976, the Walton County Board of Commissioners had asked the state for funding to four-lane 331 to relieve the congestion and safety issues surrounding the major thoroughfare. In 2006, the county was still waiting.
    After a presentation to the RTA in January by the county commissioners, city mayors and a traffic consultant, and a second meeting with Bell and Walton County Chamber President Dawn Moliterno in July, the Authority?s members have a better understanding of the need for not only the four-laning of 331, but a second bridge. The RTA agreed to hold a summit in November giving county officials the opportunity to discuss the issues.
    ?Although 331 is only one link, it is a major one,? RTA member Jim Anders said. The highway is the county?s main hurricane evacuation route, and with the second slowest evacuation time in Florida ? only behind the Florida Keys ? finding a solution is critical.
    Bell said school superintendent Carlene Anderson, members of the Chamber and Economic Development Council, and elected government officials are invited to attend the meeting.
    ?We all have a common goal, the safety of the traveling public,? he said.
    The RTA has already made 331 one of its top priorities. At the summit Anders hopes, ?To address all the issues we know of, all the ways to get 331 four laned.?
    The eight-county authority rotates the meetings so each county has a turn to host a session, Anders said. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on Nov. 16 at the Sandestin Hilton in Walton County.
     

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