Guardrail could line part of Destin’s Airport Road

Tony Judnich
A sign and flashing light warn motorists of a sharp turn on Airport Road near the airport runway. The Destin City Council is considering the installation of a guardrail in this area, which has been the site of numerous vehicle accidents. [DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS]

DESTIN — The City Council on Monday plans to consider contracting with a firm to design the installation of a guardrail for the north side of the Airport Road curve by Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard, where speeding drivers and wet pavement often lead to accidents.

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The curve is just south of a fence on the Destin Executive Airport property. Sidewalks line both sides of Airport Road for its entire length of 1 1/2 miles.

According to a study, the intersection of Airport Road and Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard saw 19 vehicle crashes during the five-year period between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2015.

That location had the second-highest number of crashes among all intersections along Airport Road during that time frame. The signalized intersection at U.S. Highway 98 had the most accidents.

Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a Jacksonville-based planning and design consultant, performed the study for the Florida Department of Transportation.

About 38% of the 133 crashes overall along Airport Road during the five-year period occurred on wet pavement, according to Kimley-Horn.

Seventy-six of the 133 crashes involved injuries. There were no fatal accidents.

“Vehicles leaving the roadway or otherwise losing control in the vicinity of the western curve of Airport Road” by Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard was a top safety concern that arose from the study, according to the firm.

A March 2016 study conducted by the FDOT on Airport Road facing southeast in the curve by Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard indicated the average speed of vehicles was 40 mph, with more than 80% of vehicles traveling above the posted 35 mph speed limit.

The surface of the pavement on the curve is made of blue limestone, which is very slippery in wet conditions, according to Kimley-Horn.

City Manager Lance Johnson recently told the council that the FDOT has plans to install a high-friction surface on the curve to help increase safety.