Monday was a big day for Okaloosa County. Triumph Gulf Coast met to discuss a long list of project proposals, and on that list, is the $64 million ask from Okaloosa County Commissioners.
“We scored this project as a “B” project,” Triumph Gulf Coast Board announced.
Even though the Triumph Board scored the Southwest Bypass Project as a B, Congressman Matt Gaetz was on hand to show his support and explain why the project should still move forward. “
“Other than offshore oil drilling, the traffic challenges that we have on highway 85 pose the greatest threat to our military mission and represent the greatest obstacle to enhance military missions,” explained Congressman Matt Gaetz.
Traffic in Crestview has been a long term problem for Okaloosa County. Many say its a north end problem but, in reality, it affects the entire county as a whole.
“We have no other crisis that is worse in our county and for our military and for the people that are in the business that transverse back and forth in this county and taking people off of 85, and doing a bypass project,” said Graham Fountain, Okaloosa County Commissioner.
The Triumph Board had concerns about the hypotheticals presented but, Commissioners say that comes from the military’s big role in the project. Along with, tourism and safety.
“That’s where some of the question marks and maybe a little of the confusion came from but I think we can get where we need to with this,” explained Kelly Windes, Okaloosa County Commissioner.
Don Gaetz temporarily passed the gavel to make the motion to move forward with the Southwest Bypass.
“Highway 85 right now is a terribly constricted highway artery that endangers the ability of our missions not only to expand but even to continue,” said Don Gaetz, Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc, Chairman.
Listing out several contingencies, the Triumph Gulf Coast Board voted unanimously to move the project to the next phase.
“It’s going to take a lot more work but, I’m pleased with the way it went,” said Commission Windes.
Having the support of so many entities, the project now has a foundation to build on and will allow the project to be complete in 5 years.
Now, the Okaloosa County Commissioners will work on the contingencies and present the concrete responses at a future meeting.