CRESTVIEW — Relief may be near for Okaloosa Lane residents tired of slipping and sliding in wet weather, and bouncing over ruts and motoring through dust clouds when it's dry.
A small, critical stretch of the road, which links U.S. Highway 90 with Redstone Avenue at Riverside Elementary School, is still unpaved.
Soon after the school opened, the section from Redstone behind Riverside Elementary was paved. However, the segment from Serenity Lane at the boundary of school property to Aplin Road, is still dirt. Efforts to pave it have been in the works for three years, County Commissioner Wayne Harris said.
The county is acquiring right-of-way from property owners on either side of the road now that 60 percent of the engineering planning is complete.
The road is heavily traveled by school buses and parents carrying students to and from the two schools, and serves residential neighborhoods that line the lane’s east side.
The segment includes a dramatic dip that frequently gets washouts.
A top priority
Paving the last quarter-mile of dirt lane is one of his top priorities, Harris said. There's hope the project might be completed within a year to a year and a half, he said.
"We are trying to elicit the property owners' support in acquiring right-of-way," Harris said. "I think most, if not all, but one or two are in favor of fixing this major problem."
Because of hazardous conditions caused by washouts, and the lack of a sidewalk for children walking to and from school, paving the road is a safety issue, Harris said.
Moreover, he said, it will enhance property values for neighborhoods the road serves.
The paving and accompanying drainage engineering work is budgeted at $2 million, county Public Works Director John Hofstad said. Part of the cost is for acquiring property needed for drainage and a sidewalk.
Engineering plans had to be revised when the original design didn't meet with the Northwest Florida Water Management District's approval, Harris said.
"We have the money to do it, and if we prevail in acquiring all of the R.O.W., we can, as they say, 'git 'er done,'" Harris said.
However, affected property owners must agree to donate or sell needed right-of-way to the county before the project can move forward, Harris said.
"One person can hold up that road," Harris said. "If one person says 'no,' then we can't do that road at all."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.