Plans to improve the Pensacola landing of the new Bay Bridge will be on display Tuesday evening.
The meeting at New World Landing downtown will introduce the project, go over the design process and gather public input. And, according to Ian Satter at the Florida Department of Transportation, clear up any confusion.
“This meeting is for the U.S. [Highway] 98 at Bayfront Parkway at 17th Avenue intersection,” Satter says. “It has nothing to do with the Pensacola Bay Bridge project. This is a completely separate study that we’re conducting.”
There won’t be any plans on display for now, because the Project, Development and Environmental study is just now getting underway and will take from two to four years to complete. The landing study will analyze and seek to improve safety conditions and travel efficiencies along the 17th avenue and Bayfront Parkway corridor.
“We have to make sure that it functions efficiently, now that we do have a separate project besides the Pensacola Bay Bridge that we’ll be constructing,” Satter says. “Obviously, as you’re coming off the bridge you’ll hit that intersection.”
Other issues to be studied include vehicular traffic, travel demands to meet future traffic needs and, because this is, after all, the Gulf Coast, emergency evacuation. And through it all, FDOT wants to get the residents’ take on the project.
“There’s a lot of information we’ll have to go through, a lot of options we’ll have to study to determine the safest and most efficient intersection,” Satter says. “But it doesn’t work without public input.”
Meanwhile, the highest-profile project remains the overall construction of a new Three Mile Bridge, to replace the current, 56-year-old-span. Satter says work has been underway, behind the scenes.
“We have the different contractors that are vying to build this bridge,” said Satter. “Coming up with their plans, designs and proposals. They’ll deliver those to [FDOT] later this year, and in the summer we will select one of those contractors to design and build that bridge.”
For now, the five design firms competing for the nearly $500 million contract are being scored by a pair of committees, one on technical issues, the other on selection. While the blueprints differ in some areas, FDOT’s Ian Satter says there are some features which are mandatory for all five proposals.
“It will be a six-lane facility,” Satter said. “Plans call for a ten-foot multi-use path to bike and jog there as well. There will be wider shoulders, so if somebody’s car breaks down, they’ll be able to pull over. You won’t have those traffic delays”
Tuesday’s meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the New World Landing on Palafox Street.