Road work: Okaloosa earmarks funds for Crestview bypass, other improvements in 2022 budget

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — The completion of the southwest Crestview bypass, improvements to various north Okaloosa County roads, construction of a multi-use path between the Brooks and Marler bridges and renovations to the Okaloosa Island Boat Basin are among the big-ticket capital expenses in the county’s proposed fiscal 2022 budget.

The new budget year starts Oct. 1. For FY ’22, the County Commission unanimously agreed at a public hearing Tuesday to give initial approval to a countywide millage rate of 3.83 mills and a total budget of more than $511 million.

The tentative millage rate equates to $383 per $100,000 of taxable property value. The rate has been in place since the 2018 budget year.

Road crews work on the first phase of the southwest Crestview bypass, which includes the widening of PJ Adams Parkway. Okaloosa County's proposed budget for 2022 includes $118 million to complete the bypass.

Previously:Bypass could help revive west Crestview area

Need a laugh? Listen to this parody song about Crestview traffic, need for a bypass

The more than $511 million proposed budget represents a 15% increase when compared to the current adopted budget, with the majority of the spike directly related to major coronavirus pandemic aid received from the federal government, according to County Administrator John Hofstad.

At the county’s second and final public hearing set for 5:01 p.m. Sept. 21, the commission is expected to vote on whether to adopt the proposed millage rate and budget. The hearing will take place in the county Administration Building in Shalimar.

By far the largest capital expense in the budget is the $118 million from various funding sources to complete the southwest Crestview bypass and pay for associated costs.

A truck kicks up dust on a dirt road near Laurel Hill in this Daily News file photo. Okaloosa County's proposed budget for fiscal 2022 includes $10 million for road improvements in the north county.

The funding includes $64 million from Triumph Gulf Coast to complete the expansion of PJ Adams Parkway, building the bypass’ north-south segment between Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90 and constructing the east-west connector road between Antioch Road and State Road 85. In addition, some of the money will pay for the plans for the future northwest bypass north of U.S. 90.

Work on the southwest bypass, including the connector, could be completed within the next two to three years, county Public Works Director Jason Autrey said Wednesday.

He said this work might wrap up before a new, $100 million I-10 interchange overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation is completed. The new interchange is slated to stand just east of the existing Antioch Road overpass at I-10.

Eastbound motorists on U.S. Highway 98 on Okaloosa Island pass signs that say share the road with bicyclists. Okaloosa County plans to spend $3.7 million to build a 12-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path along the south side of U.S. 98 from Pier Road east to the Marler Bridge.

More:Bridge-to-bridge path gains momentum

The county’s proposed budget also sets aside $10 million from gas tax and local option half-cent sales tax revenues for various north county road improvements, including upgrades for at least 15 miles of sand/clay roads.

The roads will be stabilized with the placement of a lime-rock base followed by a layer of liquid asphalt and rock known as chip seal.

The proposed budget also has $3.7 million in county bed tax money earmarked for the “bridge-to-bridge pathway” that will run along the south side of U.S. Highway 98 from Pier Road on Okaloosa Island to the Marler Bridge next to Destin.

Okaloosa County has earmarked $750,000 to improve the dilapidated Okaloosa Island Boat Basin and develop the adjoining soundside access No. 1.

That price tag is an estimate that could change because construction prices remain volatile, Autrey said.

Another major project listed in the proposed budget consists of using $750,000 in bed tax money to renovate the 18-slip county-owned Okaloosa Island Boat Basin and develop soundside access No. 1.

The basin and access stand directly across the sound from Fort Walton Landing and across Santa Rosa Boulevard from county beach access No. 2, also known as the Emerald View Boardwalk.

A conceptual design includes an updated boardwalk, an area for temporary boat mooring, ADA-compliant kayak/canoe launch docks, a parking lot next to Santa Rosa Boulevard and an enhanced stormwater swale and a walking path between the parking lot and the basin.