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Okaloosa Island crosswalk work is underway

Tony Judnich
tjudnich@nwfdailynews.com
Northwest Florida Daily News

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Installations of pedestrian crosswalks in front of the public beach accesses along Santa Rosa Boulevard might be completed before Memorial Day weekend, Okaloosa County Public Works Director Jason Autrey said Wednesday.

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The seven accesses stand along the 2-mile stretch of Santa Rosa Boulevard between U.S. Highway 98 and Eglin Air Force Base property on Okaloosa Island. Several of the accesses already have a basic crosswalk, as far as lines painted on the road and some sidewalk connections.

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In a project that began last week, North Florida Construction Inc. of Clarksville is creating new crosswalks, each with related signage and markings, at each beach access.

County officials earlier had hoped that each new crosswalk also would have ADA-compliant landings, or ramps, and button-activated, yellow flashing lights that alert drivers to crossing pedestrians.

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Disruptions to the construction industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced the county to change course.

“Plans were developed to include those enhanced elements, but they more than doubled the cost of construction,” Autrey said. “In response, the contract was issued such that the improvements comply with all of the (Florida Department of Transportation) standards for at grade cross-walks and if/when funds are available, the enhanced elements could be added in.

“There will be appropriate signage and markings, but the “active crossing systems” are not included at this time. I can’t stress enough: These crossings will be fully compliant with FDOT standards. However, that doesn’t remove the need for pedestrians and drivers to be alert when using Santa Rosa Boulevard.”

The construction contract totals about $154,000. It’s being funded with local option half-cent sales tax revenue.

While the contract duration extends to mid-June, the contractor “is working diligently to get the work completed before Memorial Day weekend,” Autrey said.

Dave Hancock, a member and former president of the Okaloosa Island Leaseholders Association, praised the county for providing the crosswalks and increasing the safety of pedestrians along Santa Rosa Boulevard.