Survey: Traffic safety, flood management top concerns

District 4 residents cited traffic safety and congestion as their number one concern according to a survey distributed by Santa Rosa County Commissioner Rob Williamson.

More than 1,000 citizens participated in the survey, and Williamson will use the data to help him outline a plan for district improvements.

“The people have spoken up,” Williamson said at a Feb. 27 Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast where he announced the results, adding, “The only way I can have any idea where you want me spending my time and our resources is to ask.”

Following traffic safety, four additional concerns included stormwater drainage/flood management; beach renourishment funding; bicycle and pedestrian facilities; and Santa Rosa Sound water quality.

Williamson plans to use the survey results to set short-term and long-term goals in four main areas of concentration for improvements: infrastructure; quality of life; environmental and tourism/economic development.

For example, Williamson said safety came in as the top concern and that closing two accident-prone medians on U.S. 98 are goals toward related improvement.

“Those were by far the two areas where there were the most accidents,” Williamson said, pointing out that about 30 accidents have occurred at both medians, which are located in front of the Navarre Chamber and in front of Wal-Mart.

Williamson said the Florida Department of Transportation is required to fund the closures, which are roughly $30,000 each, and a project development and environment study for six-laning U.S. 98 is underway.

“The results provided some clarity as to where District 4 residents would like me to focus our efforts and our resources,” Williamson said.

Not surprisingly, 30 percent of respondents said the most important attribute of the area is Navarre Beach and its natural beauty. “It’s the number two economic driver,” Williamson said. He has been tasked with developing a plan for the county to fund beach renourishment.

Santa Rosa County Public Information Officer Joy Tsubooka said of the 1,030 surveys received, 991 were considered qualified, meaning the participants lived within the district and correctly completed the form. Tsubooka said it’s the best response the county has received for a District 4 survey during her eight-year tenure.

The Haas Center at the University of West Florida analyzed the survey to ensure accuracy and validate the results, which the county reports to have a margin of error of +/-4 percent with a confidence level of 99 percent.

Williamson is hosting two meetings to discuss the survey: 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 3, at the Navarre Visitor Information Center, located at 8543 Navarre Parkway; and 6 p.m., Thursday, March 5, at the Navarre Library, located at 8484 James. M. Harvell Road.

Read the full story in the March 5 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online here.

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