The Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) hosted a series of public workshops this week on the 2015 Transportation Project Priorities. The sessions provided an opportunity for residents to help determine a transportation game-plan for the area over the next 25 years.
The Florida-Alabama TPO, made up of elected officials from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida and Baldwin County in Alabama, held four public workshops. The final meetings were held Tuesday in Orange Beach and Lillian. Also sessions were held Monday in Milton and Pensacola.
TPO Public Involvement Coordinator Brandi Whitehurst says the workshops are part of an extensive process to develop project priorities for their long range transportation plan for 2040 – refreshing the 2035 long-range plan developed in 2010.
“The project priorities are identified projects that came out of our last long-term transportation plan update,” said Whitehurst. “And, most of the projects are identified as cost-feasibility project and what we’re looking for is recommendations from the public to help us prioritize these projects.”
According to Whitehurst, cost-feasible means funding has been secured.
One of the most high profile projects currently on the priority list, and already funded, is the Pensacola Bay Bridge replacement.
“The PD&E, the Project, Development and Environment Study is underway. The design is funded for fiscal year 2016-17. Right-of-way has been funded and construction is funded in this fiscal year ’16-17,” Whitehurst said.
The Pensacola Bay Bridge, or Three Mile Bridge, is important to the transportation needs of the area. But, Whitehurst says it’s one of a long list of projects, a total of about 100 total for the three county region, that are in various stages of development and schedules for completion.
Among the projects is the widening of U.S. Highway 90 from Avalon Blvd to Stewart St in Milton. In Escambia County, projects include the of widening Nine Mile Road from Mobile Highway to Beulah Road, the widening of Sorento Road from Gulf Beach Highway to Blue Angel Parkway, and the widening of Perdido Key Drive from Gulf Beach Highway to the Alabama state line. Also, a major intersection improvement is planned at the triangle involving Langley Road, Tippin Avenue, and Ninth Avenue in Pensacola.
Additionally, the long range plan includes bicycle and pedestrian projects, and ones that address public transportation.
While the workshops have been completed, the Florida-Alabama TPO will collect written comments through May 13, in advance of the group’s next meeting. Those comments can be sent to Gary Kramer at email@example.com.
Once the 2040 long-range transportation plan is approved by the TPO, the list will be presented to the Florida Department of Transportation to be included in their five-year work program.
Whitehurst says residents’ feedback is an important part of the process.
“These are big decisions and we want the public to have the opportunity to come forward and say they want to see bike lanes and sidewalks pushed further up the list or they want to see a certain road widened or maybe they just want to see an area redeveloped.”