Destin Council delves further into possible guardrail project

DESTIN — Citing the need for more information, the City Council on Monday postponed moving forward with design work on a possible guardrail for a curve on Airport Road.

Councilman Steven Menchel said he was looking for a more definitive cost of the design work. And most members of the council want a guardrail in the median, in addition to an earlier-proposed guardrail north of the curve.

RELATED (2016): Curb the curve: Airport Road sees large number of accidents

Councilman Parker Destin did not attend the meeting.

The Airport Road curve, which is by Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard and just south of a fence on Destin Executive Airport property, has been the site of numerous vehicle accidents over the years.

The Mobile, Alabama-based Volkert Engineering consulting firm, which provides Destin with continuing professional engineering services, recently gave a tentative estimated cost of $18,000 to $22,000 for a guardrail system north of the curve.

With council approval, the firm could have the guardrail system designed in six to eight weeks, Destin Public Services Director Michael Burgess said. Construction could cost between $75,000 and $85,000.

In response to a question from Menchel, City Manager Lance Johnson said the new city engineer is not a traffic engineer and is unable to perform the design work.

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Shortly afterward, Councilman Cyron Marler remarked that he didn’t think guardrails are the answer to preventing accidents along the curve.

"The problem is educating people to slow down, not barriers," Marler said.

But other council members agreed with Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell’s suggestion to have a guardrail system installed in the median of the curve, and not just to the north of it.

"We can add that" to the overall project, Burgess said.

Updated projects costs and other details could be discussed at the Dec. 16 council meeting.

In other business on Monday, the council agreed to have staff schedule a post-Christmas workshop at which the board will prioritize projects that could be paid for at least in part with half-cent sales tax revenue.