Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Kurt Lischka, May 26, 2005.
Re: New East-West connector road meeting 6/16/05
Thanks for the info.
Re: New East-West connector road meeting 6/16/05
I'm wondering if there are actual capacity problems on US 98 right now. Since they four-laned it, I can't say I've ever felt like it was an overly-crowded road any time we've driven on it.
I'm also wondering how many cars you'd get on another east-west connector. Plenty of times, we chose to drive 30-A instead of 98 even though it's slower and occasionally crowded because, well it's a scenic pretty drive, and it's just a more fun route than 98 is if we've got the time. We can't be the only ones doing that.
Re: New East-West connector road meeting 6/16/05
I'm guilty as charged. :shock:
Re: New East-West connector road meeting 6/16/05
OMG - that's great, but I wish I had that much time on my hands.
Most people at the initial presentation last night were opposed to such a big (4-lane) new road that would be too close to neighborhoods, or cut them off.
The plan as laid out is like "Son of 98". It seems like they plan for the biggest road possible, in order to secure the right of way, build what you can as you can afford it, and then build on as needed over the years. Although it's scary as proposed, it's probably something Destin wishes it had done twenty years ago.
I imagine people around here are afraid of it because they don't want SoWal to be where Destin's at now.
You can send your questions/feedback to:
Rosemary Woods, Associate VP / project manager - PBS&J
Download the pdf handout with description of project, cost matrix for proposed alternatives, and maps:
www.SoWal.com/eastwestroad.pdf - tip: you can right click the link and save to your hard drive to view later.
Feel free to post your comments here and they'll get read by decision makers.
According to the study the "Son of 98" is going to cost taxpayers a least $160 million or more. That's a lot of $$$$. And my guess it will continue into Grand Boulevard Sandestin and not stop at Mack Bayou. It makes you wonder who would benefit by building this road. And what's going to happen at the intersection of "HWY 98" and the "Son of 98"? :shock:
Wouldn't it be less expensive to expand the existing HWY 98 with an additional 2 lanes or do a study on some other transportation options. Maybe we should start limiting one vehicle per household. What's wrong with riding a bike or walking.
I just wish Walton County would please spend a few of my $$$ dollars to at least pave my wash out, pot hole road before spending millions on studies and I am sure some of you feel the same way. I love trail riding but my a-- and bike can only handle so much. Folks there is something wrong with this picture.
Yes, the torino is parked in storage.
Hutch you're on the right track. They say the new road is for residents - so they don't have to travel on 98 to get to the new hospital and make it easier to get to the beach, etc. But in the end, it's for developers. Which develop for the people. So . . . .
The eastern portion will surely be shortcut from 331 to Seagrove and WaterColor, etc. I wouldn't want to see any of it built unless you have speed limiters and lots of traffic lights. Either that or just make it an expressway with on ramps and off ramps, and frontage roads.
I agree with you that we have more pressing needs, such as paving and repaving existing roads, new evacuation routes, 4-laning 331, etc. But I also admire foward thinking. I guess it's a matter of perspective.
I would be in favor of limiting development by keeping densities low. That is a tough battle and really takes effort by the people, many of whom are busy shopping, fishing, golfing, sunning, or live elsewhere most of the time . . . .
Even if you limit development, eventually new roads will be needed. The project manager said that this road is not affordable, but will be done as can be afforded. So you do it as you can with the goal of one day having it when you really need it. It's like asking for grant money to build a $10 million dollar arts facility in the hopes that you'll get $2 million to get underway.
And if growth is limited whereby you need this road in 40 years instead of 10, well then do people want to pay for roads that they'll probably never drive on? As I looked around the room, I thought that no one in it wanted to have to need such a road in their lifetime. And if it was needed in 20 years, most of the people in the room wouldn't live in SoWal anymore because it would not be the place where they wanted to live.
And many of them were already so upset with the pace of growth that they should have bugged out already, but for whatever reason haven't, or never will.
And one more thing if I may casually rant:
When the 331 bridge is 4-laned, something tells me that we'll have one of those confounded, infuriating TOLL ROAD situations. You know - the road that we the taxpayers pay for and then have to pay tolls to drive on FOREVER.
Now that my friends, is government and greed run amock and the people shouldn't stand for it.
It probably will happen. They'll get the Freeport bypass done and then the southern section 4-laned, and then they'll say "geez - we can't afford to build the bridge - DOH!" Here comes the $40 million dollar bond.
So when it does happen, let's make the incoming toll $50.00 per vehicle and when you're outbound you get $5.00 and a free tank of gas.
Walton Sun article - Residents upset, surprised over proposed access road
June 17, 2005
By Tanner Flowers
May 16, representatives from PBS&J held a public information hearing regarding a proposed access road planned to connect Mack Bayou Rd. to U.S. 331, and then on to County Road 395. The proposed access road will be a four-lane divided highway with a possible posted speed limit of 45 M.P.H.
Many residents came to the meeting to protest the road running near their property, only to be surprised at the unexpected size of the road.
?When this project started, it was to give local traffic, local residents, a way back to [U.S.] 331,? said local resident, Lloyd Blue. ?This exceeds what I thought.?
A Project Development & Environment Study compiled data on traffic in the area. The study concluded that the four-lane road would be necessary.
?We are looking 20 years into the future,? said PBS&J project manager, Rosemary Woods, who presented the plan to the concerned residents. ?We?re here. People are coming. We need to be prepared.?
Not all residents came to the meeting upset over the prospect of the new road. Alan Ficarra urged quick action to acquire the right of way needed for the road. He claimed that plans must be made so that the county would not be caught off guard later. He cited Destin as an example of inadequate planning leading to the inability to build new roads to alleviate traffic woes.
David Kramer also believes in the need for a road to parallel U.S. 98. Kramer claims that new roads, such as this one, will help diffuse future traffic problems.
?Old roads don?t just go away,? Kramer said.
The information session on the PD&E was just the second step in a long process. Woods reminded residents that it would take several years before they may see any visible action. PBS&J will continue working on the plan to propose the best option before any design can begin.
?People don?t realize how far out this is,? said Woods.
The developers will study comments made by residents at the meeting to put together a final proposal on the road. Woods also welcomed comments sent to her, which will be recorded in the study. She stressed the importance of public comments in the planning of the road.
The public may send comments to: Chris Merritt, PBS&J, 1901 Commonwealth Lane, Tallahassee, Florida 32303.
For more information: Rosemary Woods, email@example.com or (850) 575-1800. Walton County Administrator, Shrill Williams, (850) 892-8155.
Mine was a 1968 Torino GT, 390 w/dual-line Holleys. Best road trip car I've EVER had the pleasure of driving.
Burned it up, dead in the water, in the middle of an intersection in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Electrical short on a rewired ignition switch.
Gone, but not forgotten...
They can probably get some disaster relief/preparedness money for redoing the 331 bridge. The causeway really is dangerously low in a couple spots and it's not good to have a major evacuation route that closes with wind gusts of only 40mpg..
I'd guess that four-laning is still many moons off as well. It's going to be something like 7-10 years before the Mid Bay Bridge gets four-laned, and that's a higher traffic roadway.
The 331 bypass through Freeport is already underway. It is the first stage in 4-laning from 98 to I-10. The project was recently bumped up and I believe the completion date is set for 2008.
Man who build road must take care not to get run over.
I feel I must snatch a pebble from someone's hand
Walton Sun: BY PASHA CARROLL AND TANNER FLOWERS
?This is a long drawn out process,? Rosemary Woods said. Woods is the project manager for the Mack Bayou Study commissioned by Walton County Commissioners to study the possibility for an east/west connector road north of U.S. Highway 98. The connector road would stretch east from Mack Bayou Road, to U.S. Highway 331, and U.S. 331 to County Road 395.
?These are the very first stages, if it (the project) goes through,? she said. The project could take more than 20 years, she said.
?Projects I worked on in 1988 still haven?t been built,? Woods said.
The project will first have to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners after the 18-month study conducted by PBS&J is complete.
But even with board approval, funding is the molasses in building a road, said Woods. ?You do as much as you can as funding comes available,? she said.
As funding is made available, the road is built. Sometimes it creeps along in increments of one to two miles, Woods said.
All stages of the process will need funding, not just the construction phase of the 13.5-mile stretch of road.
?There are five phases to building a road,? Woods said. They are planning, project development and environment study, design, right-of-way acquisition then the actual construction.
The South Walton project is currently in the project development and environment study phase. The county got a grant for the study from the Florida Department of Transportation of $593,842. The county will augment the remaining cost, according to Walton County Department of Finance.
Study results thus far are four proposed routes, which were presented at a public meeting June 16.
?It is part of the process, that we listen to what the community has to say,? Woods said.
Approximately 125 people turned out for the meeting, which is a better than average amount, Woods said.
She said there is no general consensus yet, as to whether folks support or oppose the road. Over the next two weeks PBS&J will look over comment sheets submitted by those at the June 16 meeting.
Some residents went to the meeting to protest the road running near their property, only to be surprised at the unexpected size of the road.
?When this project started, it was to give local traffic, local residents, a way back to 331,? said local resident, Lloyd Blue. ?This exceeds what I thought.?
Alan Vickera urged quick action to acquire the right of way needed for the road. He said plans must be made so that the county would not be caught off guard later. He cited Destin as an example of inadequate planning leading to the inability to build new roads to alleviate traffic.
?We just had the meeting,? Woods said ?Next we will revisit (the project) and do a comparative analysis based on public comment.?
The final public hearing on community input will be later this year, she said.
To complete the study, PBS&J will study the environmental impact of each the four possible corridors.
According to PBS&J, the proposed new roadway would consist of four 12-foot lanes with a suburban typical section that includes sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Stormwater facilities including drainage systems and stormwater treatment ponds will be provided.
Any other public comments can be sent to Chris Merritt, PBS&J, 1901 Commonwealth Lane, Tallahassee, Florida 32303.
Walton Sun Editorial:
Let?s not begin the South Walton Crawl
The June 16 public information meeting to lay out early ideas for the east/west access road (Mack Bayou Road to Country Road 393) in South Walton brought more than 150 people out to see what PBS&J proposed. With two east section options and four west section options, the consulting group laid out plenty of food for thought in massive maps and charts.
Some of the attendees were there for deeply personal reasons. They own land along one of the proposed thoroughfares and wanted to see what, if any, impact there might be on their property.
Some showed up just out of curiosity. They live in the area.
And some showed up to protest the basic premise of the project before getting any information about it, before thinking about the longrange implications, and before taking off their rose-colored glasses. They came to shoot the messenger (PBS&J) when the messenger was nothing more than a hired hand, contracted by the county commission to conduct the study. To the credit of the PBS&J representatives they kept their cool when a couple of times they had every right to blow it.
Those of us who live in South Walton need to face some stark facts. The area is growing and will continue to grow. You can?t put up gates to the three entrances to South Walton and ban all moving vans. We moved here and we can?t reasonably expect others wouldn?t want to do the same thing.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, real estate in South Walton is the ? insert your favorite beauty?s name ? for developers. With development comes more people and people bring cars and cars create more traffic.
The question is what to do with the traffic. Do we dump it all on U.S. 98? Sure, that?s a grand idea! Just take a look at how well it is working in Destin. Literally thousands of locals mix in with the tourists every day to participate in a ritual known at the Destin Crawl.
Without an alternative east/west route in South Walton, we?ll eventually get the Walton Crawl. There?s a nice ring to it ? until you actually experience it again and again and again.
Now is the time to move forward with an east/west alternative route. We have the time and we have the resources to make this happen before we find ourselves bound by Highway 98 gridlock.
If we ignore this opportunity and the precious time it takes to make something like this materialize, we will be sitting here in 20 years saying ?shoulda, coulda, woulda? while we creep along Highway 98 at a blistering 4 miles per hour.
If this goes through, the very eastern part does look like an extension of East Point Washington Road. If it follows the existing powerline, it would come out on Gilmore Street just outside the back gate at Eden.
Believe it or not, this is where we actually WANTED a road 15-20 years ago, when the presently unpaved part of East Point Washington Road was not being county maintained and EPW to Bay Drive was county maintained but not paved. It is not far at all, and there is an existing easement. However, the county balked as a new bridge would need to be built.
Of course, the idea back then was that it would give RESIDENTS a quicker, safer way to 395/Point Washington. I'm not sure how I feel about a thoroughfare...
And now I look at the proposed map in the Sun, and it doesn't look like that route very much at all. Hmmmm....
Sept. 14th Public Meeting.
Mack Bayou/Pt. Washington Area Residents Take Note.
Proposed Road through your Area: There is a Public Hearing on the proposed East/West access road from Mack Bayou Road east to Hwy 331 and from Hwy 331 to CR 395. If you live in this area I strongly urge you to attend this meeting to see if the proposed road alternatives will impact you. SWCC has been monitoring and commenting on these proposals for almost 3 years now. Several road options have been proposed, all affecting existing neighborhoods, wetlands and state forest to varying degrees. The options seem to be narrowing down to either interconnecting and improving existing roads to form an alternative route or building the more intense ?boulevard? proposed by the consultants. Your input is needed. Here is an excerpt from the county press release. I have underlined some salient points. The meeting is on September 14th from 6pm to 8 pm at the Coastal Branch Library in South Walton:
County Info: This hearing is being conducted to provide an opportunity for interested persons to express their views concerning the location; conceptual design; and social, economic and environmental effects of this project. The proposed project would provide two new roads located north of and generally parallel to US 98 (SR 30). The New Access Road West would follow new alignment from Mack Bayou Road to US 331. The New Access Road East would follow mostly new alignment from US 331 to CR 395. Together the proposed new roadways cover a distance of approximately 12 miles. The new roadways would have three typical sections: a high speed four-lane divided suburban typical section, a high speed two-lane divided suburban typical section, and a low speed urban four-lane typical section. Right-of-way acquisition is proposed. Business and residential relocations may be associated with the project.
The State Environmental Impact Report and conceptual design plans developed by Walton County are available for public review prior to the hearing, weekdays 8:00 am through 4:30 pm CDT, at the Planning Department at the South Walton Governmental Center, 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard, Santa Rosa Beach. The document will remain on view from August 9th, 2006 to September 14th, 2006, the day of the hearing. Persons desiring to submit statements and other exhibits in place of, or in addition to, oral statements may do so at the Hearing. Written statements or exhibits may also be submitted as part of the Hearing if received within ten (10) calendar days after the date of the Hearing.
The Project Manager is a consultant: Ms. Rosemary Woods, PBS&J, 1901 Commonwealth Lane, Tallahassee, Florida, 32303, Telephone Number (850) 575-1800.
Ken Little, Public Information Officer for the county can also provide some info to you. His number is 850-892-8530
From Anita Page
SWCC Executive Director
By Gabriel Tynes
More than 100 audience members attending a South Walton public hearing burst into applause Sept. 14 after county commissioner Cindy Meadows promised to recommend the denial of a plan for a four lane corridor north of U.S. Hwy 98. The plan, which was presented by Tallahasseebased engineering firm PBS&J, could affect dozens of homes and cost as much as $318 million. The county commission will vote on the proposal at its regular meeting Oct. 10.
PBS&J was contracted by the county in 2002 to study an alternative east-west route that could enhance hurricane evacuation time and general traffic capacity. Meadows argued that the project is not a priority, and the county should instead focus on widening the U.S. Hwy 331 bridge or improving Mack Bayou Road.
?This project has been going on for four or five years,? Meadows said. ?I?ve watched it evolve. The price tag, the fact that it goes through neighborhoods and state forests ? I?m going to recommend that we not move forward with any of these alignments at this time. The more I looked at this it just did not make sense to me.?
Still, Meadows said the study revealed new and beneficial data the county could use in the future.
After the commissioner?s remarks, only a single audience member, Steve Landry of the Woodland Bayou Homeowner?s Association, had any additional comments.
?We were always promised an escape route,? Landry said. ?But a study in 2004 highly recommended a six-lane at Hwy. 98 for $80 million, not an alternate for $300 million.?
Landry was also concerned about runoff from the proposed highway, which would require approximately 148 feet of right-of-way for at least nine miles.
Rosemary Woods, program manager for PBS&J, presented three alternatives for the project, each of which would slalom around various power line easements, state lands, and cultural landmarks. All three proposals recommended a four-lane highway between Mack Bayou Road and U.S. Hwy 331, and a new two-lane road that would continue further east from U.S. Hwy 331 to County Road 395.
Of the three proposals, Woods suggested that the cheapest would also be the least invasive.
?When we did our public relations workshop, the recommended spot had the most positive reaction,? Woods said. ?There are fewer endangered species, fewer residential impacts, and of course it would cost less money.?
Woods said the fi rm defi nes an ?impact? as any property that will require more than 50 percent right-of-way acquisition. However, they also considered factors such as noise and air analysis, and would consider recommending barriers such as fences and walls if the public demanded.
Nevertheless, Woods conceded that the recommended alternative does have its shortcomings, including the necessary permission to cross state land, cleaning up contamination at up to six sites and the exorbitant costs of right-of-way acquisition. In fact, for an estimated $184 million, land acquisition would be the most costly part of the project.
PBS&J will be accepting public comments concerning the project until Sept. 28. Should the roadway be approved, the next steps would be funding, design, land acquisition and construction, for a timeline that could take well over fi ve years.
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