State and Walton County officials are steadily working to have a pedestrian underpass installed in Inlet Beach at the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and County Road 30A.
INLET BEACH — State and county officials are working to make the South Walton pedestrian underpass a reality.
With a combined $3.25 million already stashed away for the roughly $6 million project, Walton County hopes the Florida Department of Transportation will step in and fund the remaining balance, said Leigh Moore, president of Scenic Walton.
As president of the nonprofit organization that works to improve the county aesthetically, Moore said she's found herself leading the push to have the underpass built at the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and County Road 30A.
"This underpass is all about safety," she said. "I truly believe that it's going to save lives."
According to FDOT district spokesman Ian Satter, there are still a couple steps left before the structure can claim its home. One of them is an official declaration from the county listing its intended contribution. Once received, FDOT will be able to work the needed funds into its upcoming budget.
"Funding for that project is contingent on Walton County's contribution," Satter said. "We are looking, as an agency, to try and fund the rest of the state's portion. ... It's our intention to have it funded, but it has to go through the yearly process of being presented to the Legislature."
Moore said County Commission Chairman Tony Anderson assured her the county would provide FDOT with whatever confirmation is needed.
She added that the project gained momentum after the Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Organization moved it from No. 21 to No. 4 on its priority list — a key factor in how FDOT determines its budget.
Moore hopes construction would start in the fall of 2020. She believes that it would take about a year.
"I'm going to push for it to start as early as possible," Moore said. "For me, it's a race against the clock to get it in before there's a tragedy at that intersection."
County spokesman Louis Svehla said the underpass is "desperately needed."
He added that county officials have been working for years to get the project rolling.
"To be able to have additional funding for this project ... is certainly going to save us some money, but more importantly it's going to provide that solution at that intersection," he said. "It's something that's going to be fantastic for that intersection of 30A and 98."