The Florida Department of Transportation gave citizens an opportunity to preview proposed improvements to U.S. Highway 331 at a public information meeting, on Aug. 11. FDOT is proposing a project that will widen the existing roadway north of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge to south of State Road 20 from two to four lanes. ?It?s been on the drawing board for quite some time,? FDOT?s District Public Information Officer Tommie Speights said. ?This is a major artery in Walton County.? Safety is the main issue that has led to the widening, Speights explained. ?[Walton County] is growing fast and the road is becoming congested,? he continued. U.S. 331 is a two-lane rural arterial that runs from a US Highway 98 north to DeFuniak Springs and into Alabama. Widening the road will help increase safety and hasten hurricane evacuations. Currently, U.S. 331 carries approximately 13,000 vehicles per day. FDOT predicts that those numbers will increase to approximately 20,000 by 2014. The existing roadway consists of two 12-foot travel lanes with paved shoulders on each side. The proposed improvements will maintain the existing alignment and provide for a four-lane divided rural facility with 12-foot travel lanes and five foot paved shoulders. Project construction is slated to begin 2013. The project should be completed by 2015. Everyone seems fairly pleased with the projected plan. ?We?re very excited about it,? Latilda Henninger, Freeport?s City Planner, said. ?[The road] needs to continue. We?re concerned about a bottleneck at Freeport,? Henninger said. The state will have to acquire lands from several home and business owners for the project. ?Some businesses will be displaced. They?re compensated,? Speights said. ?It?s hard to uproot someone who?s been there so long.? Gulcin Freeman and husband, Daryl, own the One Stop Grocery in Freeport. The Freeman?s home and shop will be affected by the construction of the road. ?You cannot stop the progress. Life keeps on going. That?s just the way it is,? Gulcin said.