FDOT: 98 flyover design still alive

Despite claims made by another newspaper in the area, plans for a fly over through Navarre along U.S. Highway 98 are still under consideration according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

FDOT heads the project, and final decisions on which alternative will be selected fall under their purview.

FDOT Public Information Specialist Tanya Sanders Branton, who acts as the primary contact for the project, confirmed to the Navarre Press Thursday that the plans under consideration have not changed.

“The district is not aware of any plans for omitting the proposed flyover on US 98 at Navarre,” she said after checking with the project team. “Our schedule has been impacted a few weeks by Hurricane Michael as our focus has been on recovery efforts, but we continue to move forward with the study.”

In the article it is stated that “county officials” said Hurricane Michael had impacted the plan for a fly over on 98, but Branton said the project has not been allocated funding at this time nor has it reached the design phase. Plans for 98 remain in the preliminary consideration phase.

Once a preferred alternative is selected, the project will then go for design and eventually be placed in the work plan to receive funding.

When provided a link to the article in question Branton said “no one contacted the department regarding this, it is not accurate.”

When asked which county officials, as are referenced in the news article, made the statements Public Information Officer Brandi Whitehurst said she is not sure where that information came from.

While the plan may still be on the board, many community leaders have spoken against it.

Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Tamara Fountain has been speaking against the flyover concept since the plan was revealed in 2017.

“We have been told by the University of West Florida Small Business Development Center that anything around it (the flyover) or under it will go out of business. Visually dividing Navarre from the beach would have a negative impact on not just quality of place, but also business,” she told the Navarre Press back in June.

District 4 County Commissioner-elect Dave Piech served on the chamber’s Government Affairs and Transportation Committee who took a public stance against the flyover but in favor of the expansion in April.

In his most recent interview with the Navarre Press, Piech said he did not believe the flyover plan was in the best interest of Navarre.

“I am not convinced that a flyover is the best option. I think it would hurt business, and I agree with the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce that it would hurt downtown,” he said.

The next public hearing regarding the project has been rescheduled for January 2019 according to FDOT. Further details, including a date and location, will be released as more information becomes available.

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