Record road spending approved for Northwest Florida

highway road nwfdn
FILE PHOTO / Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 09:41 AM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — An unprecedented $974 million in state funding is headed for Northwest Florida transportation projects, Sen. Don Gaetz announced Thursday.

Gaetz, the Republican from Niceville who is the Senate president, said negotiations he spearheaded to fund 10 new projects in the region ended Thursday morning.

The plan includes setting aside $44.5 million for widening State Roads 123 and 87 and moving their construction dates up, Gaetz said at a meeting at the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. The projects are now slated to begin in 2015.

More than $600 million also has been set aside to build a new three-mile U.S. Highway 98 bridge between Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, Gaetz said. The long-sought project will be publicly funded and will not require tolls, as some people feared.

Gaetz said the Northwest Florida legislative delegation negotiated with Department of Transportation officials and Gov. Rick Scott to make sure the funds were secure in the state’s work plan.

“Not as a hope, not as a maybe, not as a might be, but … we’ve been able to get the money moved up and we’ve been able to get the schedule adjusted so that these activities will begin within the next 24 months,” Gaetz said.

He said DOT officials told him the $974 million is the largest single transportation initiative for Northwest Florida in history.

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