Star Bean is ready for development to find her patch of woodlands off State Road 85 near Crestview.
CRESTVIEW — Star Bean’s house is only about a mile from busy State Road 85, but because it’s also on the edge of a massive forest, it seems a world away from the autos and businesses on and along the highway.
Last year, “I saw about 20 huge turkeys in my backyard,” Bean said Wednesday. “They were talking to each other. That was the most beautiful sight.”
The longtime resident of McClelland Street said she often sees deer in her yard. And once she saw a red fox.
While she enjoys the visits from such wildlife, Bean supports the planned construction of a road that will cut a swath through the woods about a half-mile south of her home. The new road also will help make hundreds of acres of currently undeveloped, unincorporated land accessible to developers.
“I’m not concerned about it,” Bean said. “That would be good. It’s about time something gets built around here.”
She would like to see a Golden Corral restaurant and a shopping mall come to the area.
Okaloosa County and the city of Crestview are partners in the construction of the four-lane southwest Crestview bypass and the two-lane “east-west connector.” The bypass will run from PJ Adams Parkway to U.S. Highway 90.
The connector will stand about 1.3 miles north of Interstate 10 and run between the bypass on the west and Physicians Drive on the east.
Physicians Drive currently is a dead-end road that connects to West Redstone Avenue, which joins SR 85 by Starbucks. On its west end, the east-west connector will connect to a part of the bypass that will take up a short stretch of Arena Road.
The county anticipates having the bypass and connector projects under contract by the end of next year. Construction of both projects, which total about $200 million, might be completed by 2024 or 2025, county Public Works Director Jason Autrey said.
Local officials say that among other benefits, the east-west corridor will allow residents who live in the southwest part of Crestview to access SR 85 without having to pass through the congested SR 85/Interstate 10 interchange.
The bypass project will include a new I-10 interchange just east of the Addison Place Apartments and north of Antioch Road. Both the bypass and connector, which will be paid for with local, state and federal funds, are expected to ease traffic on SR 85.
Once the connector is built, “We will create a grid system through all the vacant land, and we’ll find ourselves with an opportunity that all these surrounding areas don’t have” for new commercial and residential development, Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc said recently.
He anticipates many of those currently vacant, unincorporated parcels will be annexed into the city so they can receive the city’s water and sewer services.
The hundreds of acres the bypass and connector will help make accessible contain a couple creeks and some valleys, but also “a lot of upland area that can and I think will be developed,” Autrey said.
He said compared to road projects in developed areas, the construction of the bypass and connector will be easier because there is no existing development in the way.
“It’s easier to build when nothing is there,” Autrey said.