HURLBURT FIELD — Crews are set to begin moving utilities Monday to prepare for construction of the new overpass on U.S. Highway 98.
In December, the state Department of Transportation awarded a $13.9 million contract for the project intended to relieve traffic congestion on U.S. 98 and provide better access to Hurlburt’s Field’s main gate.
Two two-lane bridges will be built on U.S. 98 over Cody Avenue. Construction should begin this summer.
Col. Jim Slife, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, said congestion at the intersection has been frustrating for Hurlburt and surrounding communities for years.
“I see this as a tremendous opportunity for both those of us who commute to Hurlburt Field and those who drive past the installation,” he said in an email.
The overpass should extend to about 3,750 feet west of the intersection and 2,500 feet to the east, according to the DOT.
In addition to the overpass, the work will include improvements to utilities, drainage, traffic signals, traffic management systems, lighting, signs and pavement markings.
Temporary lane closures will occur during utilities relocation, said Tanya Branton, a spokeswoman for the DOT. Officials will provide advance notice.
That job should be finished by the time construction begins this summer, she said.
The contract for design and construction of the overpass was awarded to Superior Construction Co. and Michael Baker Corp.
It came in under budget. Last spring, DOT officials said they had set aside $21.2 million for the job.
The $7.3 million in savings was passed on to other projects in the DOT’s Northwest Florida district, Branton said.
Officials said traffic likely will get a little worse before it gets better, but they are working to provide alternatives during construction.
Dan Wilcoxen, Hurlburt’s chief of military construction, said they are working closely with DOT and Okaloosa County to coordinate potential secondary gate access points.
The options being considered would be implemented about July.
The entire project is expected to be complete in the winter of 2014, Branton said.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Lauren Sage Reinlie at 850-315-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenRnwfdn.