INLET BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County residents are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of a long-awaited road project.
Pedestrians and bicyclists won’t have to wait too much longer for a safer route to cross U.S. 98.
The $5.6 million pedestrian underpass is inching closer to completion.
“It’s going to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to be able to safely cross U.S. 98 instead of having to go across U.S. 98, they’ll be able to go underneath,” Florida Department of Transportation Public Information Director Ian Satter said. “So no longer will they have to have any sort of interaction with cross traffic on U.S. 98. It’s a very busy roadway. We have a lot of pedestrian traffic here, especially during tourist season.”
Workers broke ground on the project in March 2021.
The first completion date was supposed to be the Spring of 2022, but there have been setbacks.
Weather and supply shortages prevented the project from meeting the most recent completion date of December 2022.
The northern portion of the underpass is complete including the tunnel, ramp, drainage and retaining walls.
Also, the sidewalk on the north side of the roadway is open to pedestrians.
Earlier this month, traffic shifted to the north to allow work on the south side of the underpass.
“At the end of the day, it’s a great addition for Northwest Florida, for Walton County, and it’s very unique as it is one of two pedestrian tunnels here in Northwest Florida, the only other one being on the Florida State Campus in Tallahassee so a very unique project, but a great safety project for the region, for the people who do business here, for the people who work here or the people who travel to visit here and of course, the people that live here,” Satter said.
Drivers can expect the current traffic pattern until Spring 2023 and expect to be completely finished with the tunnel early this summer.