4-laning 331 info

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by SoWalSally, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. SoWalSally

    SoWalSally Beach Fanatic

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    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.
     
  2. aquaticbiology

    aquaticbiology fishlips

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    Its about time! We've traveled 331 to get there and back for 40+ years (unless there's rain - nowadays you gotta use 231 if it even looks like rain since the big trucks have so worn down 331 until the water pools 1-2 inches in the ruts and hydroplaning occurs everywhere even in a light shower). One of my childhood memories was counting wrecks, and I would always have to have us stop at the DeFuniak Springs F&W Lab there at the corner where you turn before you go under the bridge, so I could go in and yak about fishes and such with the coolest Fish & Wildlife officers you ever saw. They always took the time to talk, too. This was back in the late 60's-early 70's of course, now its a police station or some such. The place always smelled like wet dog, I wonder if they ever got the stink out.
     
  3. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    This project has been pushed up recently. So I was surprised to see that only a portion was scheduled to be completed in about 10 years. I figured the whole thing from 98 to I-10 would be finished in that time span. We shall see.

    And I would be surprised if the new bridge over the bay is not a toll bridge.
     
  4. aquaticbiology

    aquaticbiology fishlips

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    All about 'tourist means we got to get em here and then they'll spend their money and forget about hurricanes and damage and maybe they'll even come back if we make them a nice pretty big road'? I still remember when they replaced the old rickety 331 drawbridge. A friend of mine has some great early-camcorder video of travelling at night on the automobile ferry they ran when the old drawbridge was replaced. The current 'new' arched 331 bridge is set slightly to one side to allow for another bridge for the 4-lane scenario. No real reason the new northbound bridge should be a toll bridge since it's over the intracoastal canal and comes under the jurisdiction of the feds, who just can't wait for another reason to waste a few million of our tax money so they can close both sides of the bridge every time the wind blows or some self-important dignitary travels over it.
     
  5. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    Lately the State has opted out of the bridge building business claiming it's too expensive.
     
  6. aquaticbiology

    aquaticbiology fishlips

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    Only thing I can remember about Freeport (I think its Freeport) is the Curve, the sign for 'Karen's Curl Up And Dye', highly enforced 35 mph and a really cool looking boat dock/stream with neat reed-lined banks hanging over that nice black water I've never approached closer than going by on the road. Wonder how they're going to handle the other over-enforced 35mph curve down by the old owl/american farms (with the big rotating sprinklers) where they built the new school (unless that's four laned already but I can't remember).
     
  7. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    That curve at American Farms (Owl's Head), will be straightened by the 4 lane. They were supposed to begin construction for that section from south of Owls Head to Hwy 20. Currently, they are only going to two-lane, but they purchased enough land to go back and four lane at a later time. The new road will split Freeport Plantation, thereby creating commercial land on both sides of the road for Freeport Plantation.
     
  8. aquaticbiology

    aquaticbiology fishlips

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    And probably yet another strip mall with yet another Wal_Mart Supercenter with 6-acre parking lot and associated runoff lake.
     

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