Airport Road curve has been a concern for at least a decade.

DESTIN — Since at least 2009, city residents, committees and city councils have expressed the need for increased safety measures at an Airport Road curve, City Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell said in her December public newsletter.


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The curve she refers to stands by Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard and Destin Executive Airport and has been the site of numerous vehicle accidents over the years.


In her newsletter, as well as during an interview with the Daily News on Friday, Ramswell cited reasons for the delays in making the curve safer.


“In the past several years, there have been various approved (council member) motions regarding improvements” to the curve, Ramswell said in her newsletter. “In fact, we had funding and approvals from (the Florida Department of Transportation earlier this year) until issues with contractor selection and how our project was worded led to more delays.”


The project delayed by the FDOT’s concerns called for repaving the slippery-when-wet, blue limestone surface of the pavement on the curve with more of a non-skid surface.


“A lot of red tape and a lot of bureaucracy have been the big issues” for recent delays in making the curve safer, Ramswell said Friday.


She added that staff will try again to obtain the FDOT’s help in paying for upgrades to the curve’s surface.


In the meantime, the city is working on getting guardrail systems installed on the north side of the curve and the median of the curve.


At Monday’s council meeting, the board agreed to have City Manager Lance Johnson negotiate a task order with a firm to design the guardrail systems.


A proposed task order with Volkert Engineering, which provides Destin with continuing professional engineering services, will be brought back to the council for its consideration. The estimated total design and installation cost for the guardrail systems is almost $98,000.


At Monday’s meeting, Ramswell said a city official had told the council in 2010 that Okaloosa County was responsible for making the Airport Road curve safer.


“I think one of the reasons initially (for the delays in safety upgrades) was (former city officials) thought the county was responsible,” Ramswell said Friday. “Later, I think more urgent issues came up and the ball was dropped. But now, it is urgent.”


She said she didn’t think the city’s high turnover in city managers was a factor in delaying efforts to make the curve safer. Johnson represents Destin’s sixth city manager since 2002.


In any event, Airport Road is in the city’s jurisdiction, county Public Works Director Jason Autrey said.


“It is my understanding that that is a city of Destin roadway,” he said. “It’s their’s to maintain and they own it.”


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