A four-way intersection could be in store for Marler Street, U.S. Hwy. 98 intersection

Matt Algarin | The Log
This conceptual drawing of the proposed Marler Street/U.S. Hwy. 98 intersection shows the pedestrian safety improvements that would accompany a fully signalized traffic light.

As the city continues to address pedestrian safety in the harbor district, changes will come to the U.S. Hwy. 98 and Marler Street intersection.

"In order to make this a safe intersection, you need to simplify the movements of the vehicles," City Engineer David Campbell said during a recent Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.

The city is currently working on a set of parallel plans with the Florida Department of Transportation to make improvements in an area that has seen its fair share of accidents.

After the completion of the Marler Street parking lot last year, city leaders have focused their attention on ways to make crossing Hwy. 98 safer, which led them to looking at a fully-signalized traffic signal.

Initial designs for the project call for a four-way intersection and medians that would be both extended and split, similar to those in front of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast.

Councilman Cyron Marler wasn't "real thrilled with" the early design, which features split medians that traffic would move between.

"That adds more danger to me, because people standing in that little area," he said. "I just don't like it."

And Marler wasn't the only one with objections, Campbell told city leaders.

"We've got some concerns from some property owners nearby," he said, adding that they would like to have some input in the project's configuration.

For his part, Councilman Jim Foreman said it's crucial that the city work with those who might be impacted by the project.

"We need to make sure those (issues) are addressed," he said. "I remember Airport Road and Main Street was a vivid example of that."

Given the concerns, city leaders have already held an informal meeting with concerned parties within 300-feet of the project area, as well as with local businesses that have contributed to a fund supporting the construction of the traffic signal. Gallander said those supporting and opposed to the project plan to meet with FDOT officials.

Those who have agreed to pledge financially include Ray Watson ($5,000), Alan Laird ($25,000), Keith Howard ($25,000), Claude Perry ($25,000), and Dewey Destin ($5,000).

As for the project's timeline, Councilman Tuffy Dixon said the city can take a few extra minutes to think this through and get things rights since they are "not against the clock."

"We were never going to get that light this summer," he said.

More than likely, city leaders will not see another update or agenda item on the project until after the Seafood Festival wraps up. The project would still have to be approved by the City Council before it could be put out to bid.