Gaetz: Six-Lane Widening For Portion Of Highway 29; New Bay Bridge
February 1, 2013
A six lane upgrade to a portion of Highway 29 and a new no-toll Three Mile Bridge were among nearly $1 billion in transportation funding announced Thursday by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Gaetz said he was told the initiative constitutes the largest single investment in our area’s transportation infrastructure in state history.
Escambia County will see widening of Highway 29 from four to six lanes from Nine Mile Road to I-10. The interchange at Nine Mile Road will be replaced with a “tight urban diamond” and existing ramps will be converted to service roads. Construction is planned for 2016 at a cost of $50.8 million.
The largest single project is the replacement of the Three Mile Bridge on Highway 98 connecting Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. The bridge will cost $595.6 million to build. Construction will begin in two years following acquisition of right of way and environmental permits.
The Senate President emphasized that the new bridge will not be a toll bridge but will be paid for entirely by state transportation funds.
Northwest Florida’s three ports – Pensacola, Panama City and Port St. Joe – will all receive improvements totaling $14.5 million. Gaetz praised Montford (D-Tallahassee) for his persistence and success in championing port funding as a way to help manufacturing and agriculture. Montford is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Gaetz said the impact of the historic investments will be to help the private sector create more and better jobs.
“Hundreds of jobs will be created during the engineering and construction of these projects,” Gaetz explained. “But the real economic value is in building the arteries that get products to and from market. A burst of construction getting that infrastructure in place will help our communities attract and keep growing businesses that need skilled workers for decades to come.”
Santa Rosa County will receive $23.9 million in state funds to add two lanes to the existing two lane State Road 87 from Eglin AFB’s boundary to two miles south of the Yellow River.
Millions of dollars of projects were also announced in Okaloosa, Washington, Holmes and Bay counties.
Pictured top: The Three Mile Bridge linking Pensacola and Gulf Breeze is set for replacement. Pictured inset: Highway 29 from Nine Mile Road to I-10 will become six lanes. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.