ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — At the last Escambia County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board approved to transfer $5 million from the Longleaf Drive Roadway Improvement Project to several other road projects.

The reason the board was able to transfer funds is because bids from the Longleaf Drive Roadway Improvement Project came in at the amount of $6,831,645.08. Fund 352 has $12.6 million programmed for the improvements in the fiscal year 2022. The difference of the bid and the funds on hand is what was approved to be allocated to the different projects.

“The Longleaf Drive Roadway Improvement Project has been on the books since 2007,” said Commissioner Jeff Bergosh. “At that time, there were traffic studies that indicated, with the four schools and the growth of the community, that the traffic counts on that road would nearly triple. So, they said we needed to do a four-lane project with a center median and sidewalks, and it was a $13 million project. So, we funded it and there it sat.”

When the commissioners got the traffic counts back, Bergosh said it didn’t increase anywhere near what they were expecting.

“In fact, it stayed about flat,” said Bergosh. “So, our traffic engineer said we didn’t need to do four lanes, we needed to do two lanes. The thing is, it was programed at $13 million, but came back at about $7 million and left about $5 million.”

Below are the projects included in the $5 million:  

$2 million to Sorrento Road’s 4-Laning Project Development and Environment Study – Sorrento Road between Blue Angel Parkway and the Theo Baars Bridge is an existing two-lane facility that has been a Transportation Planning Organization Priority Project for well over a decade. Recent facilities on this corridor have brought renewed emphasis on accelerating the expansion of this corridor to a four-lane facility. FDOT has indicated the first step is to fund the PD&E study for the corridor, with the quickest course of action being local funding in the amount of $2 million. This initial step in project development could potentially get this project included in the current work program, with FDOT procuring a consultant to begin work within eight months, Escambia County staff said.

$500,000 to Beulah Sidewalks – In Feb. 2020, the need for sidewalks within a two mile radius of Beulah Middle School was examined by Escambia County staff. Installation of sidewalks along Rebel Road from Nine Mile Road to Frank Reeder Road, one of several corridors in this area that have been identified as being in need of sidewalks, would cost an estimated $500,000 and could benefit from funding, according to Escambia County staff. Staff also said constructing sidewalks along the corridors around the school will benefit those who walk and bike to school and could decrease the use of motorized transportation.

$2 million to Frank Reeder Road – Frank Reeder Road streetscape, drainage and paving improvements from the east side of Beulah Road to the west side of Interstate 10 will create a multi-lane typical section with medians, landscape buffers, sidewalks, lighting and drainage improvements to increase connectivity, access and safety for the existing and future residents of Escambia County within the Beulah community, Escambia County staff said. This construction project will accommodate future commerce uses while balancing the needs of pedestrians to access the planned future amenities. A design firm has been selected and contract negotiations are underway, according to Escambia County staff.

$500,000 to the Muldoon Road Drainage Project – The Muldoon Drainage Project is a multi-phased project serving the Bellview community. Escambia County staff said this drainage construction project is expected to provide reduced flooding conditions from Bayou Marcus to Bellview Avenue and will include improvements to retention ponds and storm water conveyance infrastructure along the Muldoon Road Corridor.   

“We were able to work this and massage it and it worked like it was supposed to,” said Bergosh. “They are all very worthwhile projects and at the end of the day, this speeds up necessary infrastructure improvements. This is a big deal. It was probably one of the biggest votes that I have had since I was voted onto the board. It’s a massive win.”

The transfer of funds was approved unanimously.

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