Funds approved for design and permitting for Marler traffic signal

Matt Algarin
After the completion of a warrant study, city leaders in Destin will have a better idea of what type of traffic devices are available to them as they look for ways to move pedestrian traffic across U.S. Hwy. 98 in the Harbor District.

City leaders have given the green light to spend $35,480 for design work and permitting of a proposed traffic signal along U.S. Hwy. 98 at Marler Street.

“The city has budgeted funds to cover this,” City Manager Maryann Ustick told members of the city council during their Monday night meeting.

All told, the city has budgeted a total of $465,900 for pedestrian safety improvements along Highway 98.

For their investment, the city will receive a complete set of construction contract documents and permitting documents for the construction of a traffic signal and other improvements, such as a 10-foot wide sidewalk from the Highway 98 and Marler Street intersection to Captain Royal Melvin Heritage Park.

Documents will include a site plan, signalization plan, a traffic movement chart and a geometric design of the intersection and Harbor Boulevard sidewalk, which can all be used by the contractor once the project is bid out. Other improvements would be made in the area to help address concerns over pedestrian safety. The eastbound turn lane at Marler Street would be lengthened, enhancing the aesthetics and increasing sidewalk width in the area.

Currently the city is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct a warrant study, which will determine whether a traffic signal is needed at the intersection based on the amount of traffic that flows through the area. With foot traffic to the harbor boardwalk increasing, city leaders have been contemplating ways to move pedestrian traffic safely across the highway, especially at the city-owned Marler Street parking lot on the north side of the roadway.

City leaders have even looked toward the state capital for assistance, as Councilman Jim Wood recently met with Sen. Don Gaetz to discuss the matter.

“He clearly knew about the project, supports the project,” Wood told his colleagues. As for potential funding options, he said more than likely a funding source wouldn't be available until 2014.

Given an increased emphasis on pedestrian safety as of late, city leaders unanimously agreed to spend the money without much conversation.

Ideally the city would like to have the traffic signal installed and improvements made at the intersection prior to the 2014 summer season.