West Bay Parkway - [Update: Preferred Route Chosen]

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by GoodWitch58, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. Em

    Em Beach Fanatic

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    At one time, I think the NWFLTCA had the estimate for the 331 four lane from I-10 to Hwy 98, including the bridge, being around $220 million (However, I was thinking that the bridge alone was $220 million, so I'm not sure). They have more recently removed the estimated costs/project from their priority list.

    The current 331 bridge is around 2.5 -3 miles in length. The intra-coastal is around 200 feet in width. The 331 bridge construction may be coming from Federal dollars. We'll see. I'm guessing it will look more like the connecting Panama City to Panama City Beach, but not as high, but it probably depends on costs.
     
  2. whatiscmr

    whatiscmr Beach Lover

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    From what I understand, if a new 331 bridge were to be constructed, it wound have to span the bay. they would not be able to use causeways. I think hwy 20 would be the most viable route. Once you hit it, you can head north, west or east and hit major hi-ways. Am I missing something?
     
  3. beachFool

    beachFool Beach Fanatic

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    $5 each way could be the equivalent of a 10% or higher tax increase for workers coming from north of the bay.

    I fail to see the humor.
     
  4. Lake View Too

    Lake View Too SoWal Insider

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    Or $10 to drive up to Morrison Springs and back. I'd rather sit infront of my PC and lament the loss of the political forum.
     
  5. Lake View Too

    Lake View Too SoWal Insider

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    My arithmatic certainly was quite mistaken about the costs of the bridge (ya'll be glad I'm not your accountant), but I'm also not following your logic. The problem, in case of hurricanes, is getting lots of people over the bay using a two lane road. Once they get to 20, they will disperse a bit, but history has shown, it just don't work now. I have to admit, I can't quite envision a half causeway/half open span set up, nor can I picture the planners that be actually removing the existing causeway to build some quarter billion dollar project. Did somebody say $5 per trip? That might be wishful thinking.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
  6. Em

    Em Beach Fanatic

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    Lake view, you are correct in thinking that they won't keep one causeway while the new pretty one is the span. They will build the span, destroy the causeway, then build the second span, just like they did in PC/PCB.

    Tolls will stink, especially for all those employees coming into SoWal from NoBay. Add $4/gal for gas and it could pose big problems for employers in SoWal.
     
  7. Lake View Too

    Lake View Too SoWal Insider

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    What I'd love to see (being the utopian kind of guy that I am) is a completely reworked causeway/island. Much higher, much better : the crown jewel of all wayside parks, as it were. Complete with boat ramps, and (dare I say it) palm trees. Nothing would say welcome to SoWal like a mini island paradise.
     
  8. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    The joke is in the dime. It's an old joke, Francis. Some would say it would be funnier the other way around.

    Truth is the toll will probably be around $3 coming and going which ain't no joke. Just my guess though.
     
  9. Andy A

    Andy A Beach Fanatic

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    I am more concerned with the establishment of further evacuation routes than anything else. The Clyde Bailey bridge closes to outgoing traffic at wind of 35mph, I understand. It is really the only evacuation route available to South Walton residents that goes directly North. To me, that is one of the main reasons for development of the West Bay Parkway.
     
  10. beachFool

    beachFool Beach Fanatic

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    Gee Andy I thought you were opposed to government spending.

    Tolls will be insuffient for the West Bay Parkway so that means someone's tax dollars.

    To quote Lennon and McCartney, do "you think the money was heaven sent?"

    The buzzword is public-private partnership and we had best watch out.

    See below in bold from an earlier column I wrote for the Sun.

    The Long and Winding Road

    In two generations, Florida skyrocketed from a predominately agricultural state to the number four slot on the US population Billboard Top Fifty. When I was born, more people lived in Alabama than hung their hats in Florida. According to the 1950 census, we were a pedestrian 20th in population. Personally, I credit air-conditioning.

    Florida’s rapid growth put enormous pressure on infrastructure, particularly roads. Florida ranks below all southeastern states in the number of “lane-miles” of road per 1000 residents. To some planning for growth carries a negative connotation but failing to plan carries its own set of problems. Simply put Florida needs more roads.

    On the docket for Walton County is the proposed West Bay Roadway linking the airport with South Walton. Under consideration are seven routes along with a no build option. The seven routes funnel into two places on US 98, one slightly east of Watersound Parkway, the other one more westerly.

    The roadway could relieve traffic congestion on Back Beach Road and would provide an alternate evacuation route. Improved access to the airport could spur real estate development and economic growth. We have some significant obstacles-no money and a noisy contingent opposed to all government projects except their Social Security checks and Medicare. In addition, South Florida drivers face their own overcrowding issues and they outnumber us. The road will also cut through environmentally sensitive areas and impact high quality wetlands.

    A few buzzwords tossed around include “public-private partnership” and “toll-roads”. When added together these two often yield municipal bonds aka debt. For the record, one of the largest municipal bond defaults in the last two years was a Greenville, South Carolina toll-road. Hailed at one time as an “innovative…public-private partnership” the “Southern Connector”, the moniker hung on it by boosters, has gone bust. Unrealistic traffic projections and overly optimistic economic expectations doomed the Connector. Closer to home, look no farther than the Garcon Point toll bridge which, baring something unforeseen, will default on their July 1, 2011 payment.

    Municipal debt falls into two general categories-general obligation and revenue. With general obligation bonds, the issuer is obligated to use every bit of taxation power at their disposal to satisfy bondholders. While revenue bonds, depend solely on a defined revenue stream. The Southern Connector and the Garcon Point Bridge, like most toll-ways, used revenue bonds for financing.

    Compared with their corporate cousins, municipal bonds default at much lower rates. In the last forty years, housing and hospital projects have accounted for most municipal bond defaults. With the growing reluctance of citizenry to finance infrastructure projects, we could see highway projects added to the list. As Deep Throat warned, follow the money. In 2009, the Southern Connector generated $3.9 million but $2.8 million (almost 72%) went to consultants, marketing, salaries, and legal fees. Someone came out smelling like a rose.

    Road construction, while vital, is complex, challenging and expensive.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2011
  11. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    There are definitely some "bridges to nowhere" that haven't paid for themselves. Seems like some crookedness. Does anyone doubt that a 331 toll road would pay for itself though?
     
  12. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    No one mention Bo's Bridge right now. It's like the worst possible thing you can be compared to politically at this point. Though I do have a certain sick fascination in seeing if the bondholders end up claiming the asset (ie. the underperforming toll bridge) as the bond default gets sorted out and how much state taxpayers end up paying for the boondoggle, even though we're also creditors in the mess.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/growth/article1179840.ece

    The Garcon Point Bridge default is also going to make it harder to borrow for other Panhandle projects and they're probably going to have to pay higher interest rates for projects that do get funded. In addition, they're going to have to make the numbers work using far more conservative traffic projections- real numbers of vehicles on 331, not Freeport growth projections if a toll route is in the works for that bridge, and the West Bay connector route is also going to have any projections for new traffic viewed quite skeptically.
     
  13. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    The 331 bridge needs to be 4 lanes (and divided) and it needs to not be funded on the backs of the working people who are already shelling out $$ for fuel to commute to work.

    Can we reduce the bed tax by .05% and add a .05% out of state bridge charge?
     
  14. Em

    Em Beach Fanatic

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    hmmm? .05% bridge fee (based on the rental rate)? That doesn't sound so fair. Someone renting a Gulf Front $10,000 per week home has to pay $50 bridge fee, where someone staying at Grayton Beach St Park for $210 per week pays only $1.05 bridge fee. The guy hauling the big RV behind the suburban has much more wear and tear on the bridge, yet they get 98% discount compared to the other guy.
     
  15. beachFool

    beachFool Beach Fanatic

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    Show me the money...and the figures

    The Mid-Bay Bridge has consistenly had lower numbers than projected...until they jacked up tolls

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/ho...h-Rates-Mid-Bay-Bridge-Authority-FL-Springing

    Toll revenues have declined along with traffic declines through fiscal 2009 (down 3.9%, 7.2% and 2.8% year-over-year for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively). While the June 2010 toll increase did not yield as much as past increases, reflecting the aforementioned oil spill and the economic downturn, it did yield 16% growth in revenues during June-Sept 2010 time period versus same period in fiscal 2009. Fiscal 2010 revenue was up 5.7%, reflecting only one quarter's worth of the increase.

    The authority's proactive position to implement a toll increase in June 2010 to help fund necessary improvements on approaches and connections to the bridge is viewed positively by Fitch. Although traffic on the bridge decreased by an average of 3% in the first two months of fiscal 2011 primarily as a result of the elasticity impact of the toll increase, toll revenues were up 24% during the same time frame.
     
  16. beachFool

    beachFool Beach Fanatic

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  17. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    A four lane bridge for 331 will help only in emergency evacuations. If it is a toll bridge it may negatively impact the local economy. We need the bridge but we do not need the economic impact of it being a toll bridge. I do not know how the new bridge would be paid for but I have a suggestion. BP will wind up weaseling out of paying most of that 20 billion dollar fund. Before they give the 15 billion or so back in dividends to stockholders and bonues to executives why not hire that attorney for Casey Anthony to prove how the oil spill damaged the 331 bridge?
     
  18. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    If you aren't writing the rules to explicitly target locals/tourists, then effective local discounts are just fine. Many peninsula toll roads have a Sunpass commuter discount- after X number of trips on the road in a month, you get a 10-20% rebate and the Sunpass discount for the Mid Bay Bridge is effectively a legacy from when you got a $1 discount per trip for buying paper monthly coupon books for bridge crossings.
     
  19. Abby Prentiss

    Abby Prentiss Beach Fanatic

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    I wish we still had a ferry.
     
  20. beachFool

    beachFool Beach Fanatic

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    Item 1: Don't think existing free roads (331) can be converted to tollroads.



    Item 2: RE: Mid-Bay Bridge per Carr, Riggs & Ingram audit

    When the bridge system was initially constructed, the Authority executed a lease with the
    FDOT. Under the terms of the lease, when all of the debt related to the bridge was paid
    off, ownership of the bridge reverted to the FDOT. Therefore, the Authority accounted for
    the transaction as a direct financing lease. During 2009, the Authority began to consider
    the substance of this transaction and the likelihood that bonds will always be outstanding
    due to continuous expansion of the system. Following this conclusion, the Authority
    decided to change its accounting principle and record the bridge as a capital asset in the
    financial statements and cease reporting as a direct financing lease
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2011

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