Bridge Addition for US HWY 331

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Bob Wells, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    This is a major change to causeway design.

    From WZEP:

    331 Bridge, Walton Could See Refund


    Walton County could see money returned and the loan for the county’s share of the 331 bridge project could be paid off quicker. This means the half cent sales tax could go away sooner. The design build second bridge should have the contract agreement announcement on June 25.


    If the Florida Department of Transportation finds cost savings with the bid for the project, money should be returned. Ian Satter, Public Information Officer for the FDOT says District Three has always said they would look for cost savings and return any money not needed back to the county. This would be applied to the loan.


    Walton was asked to contribute $75 million to the bridge project. The commissioners faced a choice of not providing the money, allowing a toll or finding a way to pay the amount. After a public vote, a half cent sales tax was added to pay the $75 million loan plus fees. The loan agreement allows for early payback. The exact time can not be set due to the unknown economic factors with sales and how much tax will be brought in each year. The expectation is the payback would be 8 to 15 years. If money is returned, the payback time would be shortened.


    The FDOT has reduced the construction costs by using a causeway design. This means a shore to shore bridge is no longer required. The park and boat ramps will be rebuilt. The second bridge will go on the east side, the side where a previous bridge was. The design build allows for the project to move faster since some of the design aspects can be completed while construction starts.
     
  2. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    That's good news - I guess since there is already a causeway there then they decided another wasn't going to matter.
     
  3. miznotebook

    miznotebook Beach Fanatic

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    I believe they are going to use the existing causeway for the new bridge.
     
  4. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    Is there room? Seems like it would at least need to be expanded. Also elevated to prevent wash over.
     
  5. miznotebook

    miznotebook Beach Fanatic

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    I know the discussion at some of the county commission meetings was that all or almost all of the existing causeway would be used with the new construction, so the park would have to go under the bridge, no longer room for it to the side. They are supposed to award a contract on June 25 to one of the bidders to design and build the project, so we should know more about the configuration then. Maybe someone else knows more, though.
     
  6. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks so much! Any talk of increasing the height?
     
  7. miznotebook

    miznotebook Beach Fanatic

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    Have not heard anything, but as I said we do not know the final design yet. More height sounds like a good idea to reduce the chance of flooding.
     
  8. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    As reported by WZEP AM 1460:

    Walton To Get $50 Million Back


    Florida Department of Transportation District 3 Secretary Barfield came to Walton with some good news, money. With bids for the new second Clyde B. Wells bridge coming in lower than expected, the savings will be passed back to Walton and that means the recently added half cent sales tax will go away quicker.


    Barfield told commissioners he was excited to present the results of the second bridge with a low bid of just under $119m. They expect to start proceeding in August. The hope is to have the bridge built by the end of summer 2016. Barfield said this depends on weather. The second bridge is a design build project. Barfield said they do not have a design yet and they expect changes to the project. Money is being held back for any unanticipated needs.


    The amount of contribution from Walton changed from $75m to $25m. Barfield said his goal is to give all the bid savings to Walton County. He said they were very comfortable in releasing the $50m. Commissioner Comander thanked him, saying she had been involved in the project since 1975. Commissioner Imfeld also thanked the FDOT for following through with their promise to return any savings. The $50 million should come back within 30 days. He told the commissioner she might have it hand delivered. The cost the half cent sales tax is paying for is not just the money for the bridge, but also the fees and interest. The ordinance creating the additional half cent sales tax requires the money to only be used for the county’s share of the project and the tax has to be removed when the loan is paid off.
     
  9. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    Meanwhile - there is a public meeting coming up about the 4-laning of 331 between Defuniak Springs and the Alabama border.
     
  10. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    They also said another $7 million may be returned after contracts are signed. As for building to the Alabama line, 1 I would hope that a funding source would be found before hand and a better cost estimate would be had before we end up doing this again. I think it would be great to widen it just not sure I would appreciate the way this one was done and I supported the bridge and tax over the toll.
     
  11. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    And then what happens after you cross into Alabama? Is there a plan to 4-lane 331 in Alabama to hit the new Montgomery bypass that is under construction? I guess that is Alabama's bidness.
     
  12. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    Actually I think there is a plan, because there was discussion to 4 laning 85 to Alabama and there was supposed to be 4 laning 331 north to Montgomery. I don't recall whatever happened to the discussion but Alabama has done some pretty significant work up that way over the years.
     
  13. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    AS reported on WZEP AM 1460:

    FDOT DFS 331 North Meeting Held


    Would you like to see U.S. 331 widened to four lanes from Highway 90 to the Alabama state line? Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon, but the state has begun the process to see what the needs are. The DeFuniak Springs City Council met with Christy Johnson of West Florida Regional Planning and George Holland from the FDOT Milton Planning office about a $3 million study to look at the U.S. 331 north and traffic needs in twenty years. The work comes after a change to the future work program. The study was added to the 2014 budget.


    This section of highway is on the FDOT Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) since it connects cities, goods and people. The 28 mile project was included in the 20135 needs plan for the feasibility study and design. The cost to build a road can be $5m to $6m per mile.


    The Council and residents were told the first step is determining what the future needs are. Next the study will recommend different ways to meet the needs. These can include widened roads, public transportation and other ways to move people and goods. For this highway the need will likely be widening, adding passing lanes, or additional lanes. After the decision is made of what to do, the planning, design and engineering takes place. This will also let them know what the rights of way needs are. The study and plans will take about three years. None of this can move past what is currently budgeted for. Those at the meeting were told the funding could be moved up, but normally they are looking at a minimum of 10 to 15 years. Since this is a study looking at needs for twenty to twenty five years out, the work might not be done for 20 years.


    The Council talked about and agreed there is a need. They also talked about the part of the highway that comes through the city. A bypass was mentioned. Council member Mac Carpenter said he would be opposed to any bypass. He talked about the changes to the economy of the city when the interstate came through. Carpenter called transportation corridors the lifeblood of economic development in the town.
     

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