PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Florida Department of Transportation and the Department of the Navy are working together to help make Naval Air Station Pensacola more accessible to the public.
“When you have those mutually beneficial agendas and they meet together, that’s when the magic happens,” said NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Timothy Kinsella Wednesday. “And that’s what happened here.”
In a letter sent to Kinsella Dec. 14, the Florida Department of Transportation expressed its intent to work with the Navy and create a public roadway through the naval base to allow access to the National Naval Aviation Museum and more.
“It’s a public access that would go from one end of the base to the other to allow unfettered access,” Kinsella said. “Number one — it would connect Perdido and Pensacola faster. A little bit quicker and it would allow economic development outside the front and back gates because you have all that public access going through.”
Since the terrorist attack on NAS Pensacola, a federal policy has denied public access to all U.S. military bases, with a few exceptions, making finding solutions a priority for officials.
Those involved met Wednesday to discuss the project’s progress.
“Originally we were looking at a timeline of 2025,” said Florida Sen. Doug Broxson. “We think that has been pushed back considerably if everything comes into play and we can get the engineers involved and put this together fairly quickly.”
Kinsella said the public roadway will not only help the base and its museum, but the entire Pensacola community.
“It’s going to be transformational for greater Pensacola as a whole because you’ll have people from all over the southeastern United States and all over the world coming here to see this museum.”
In the meantime, officials say they are working on temporary solutions like vetted bus tours as a way to get civilians on base and into the museum once again. No official timeline has been set for a temporary solution.