A Road Through the State Forest Could Be in South Walton's Future

Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. - Discussions of building a road cutting thru the State Forest in South Walton is getting a lot of attention. Earlier this week, Governor Rick Scott spoke with Walton County officials, about the potential idea but, this is not the first time this idea was proposed.

For decades, there has been discussion of building a cut through road right here in the middle of Point Washington State Forest, dating back to at least 2003.

"When this idea came up in 2003 the division of forestry said, "Well, put your road on the eastern boundary of the conservation land," recalled Celeste Cobena, Let It Be Forest, spokesperson.

The lands were originally bought for conservation and recreation. Now, the proposed idea is to build a road that would run along a power line, parallel to Hwy 98 and CR 30a.

"It's not a political thing, it's the right thing to do. Ultimately, you need to have that access to evacuate people off of 30a. It is not designed for that," explained Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Walton County Sheriff's Office.

"The statistics they are talking about are prior to the 331 bridge and the four landing of 331....this additional road actually only increase the bottle neck," said Cobena.

Cobena's concern is, the impact to nearly 12 acres that she says, would interrupt the hydrology of waters and diminish habitats.

"The county really has created the traffic problems on 30a, by not following the comprehensive plan and allowing increased, increased density," stated Cobena.
    Governor Rick Scott took note of what the county still needs and asked one last question.

"What do you need me to do," asked Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida.

Tony Anderson, Walton County Commissioner replied, "We just need to get approval to do it."

"We need to get it run up to you. I think they (the County) are still working on some studies, they have to do to get it in front of the Cabinet," added Sheriff Adkinson.

"So, we are going to see if there is a way to accelerate that and then we, you know, we have been able to dramatically increase our State Budget for transportation," said Governor Scott.

Without the Cabinet's approval to expedite the process, the idea will be back to square one.

Governor Scott has less than seven months left in office. He says told Walton County Commissioners he plans to discuss the idea with the Cabinet during one of their future meetings.

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