FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Florida Department of Transportation said preliminary construction for the Brooks Bridge replacement connecting Fort Walton Beach to Okaloosa Island will start this month.

“This work includes relocating utilities on and around Brooks Street, U.S. 98, and the south side of Publix at the Shoppes at Paradise Point shopping center. In the coming weeks, crews plan to realign Brooks Street, from Perry Avenue to the Brooks Bridge, to provide space to construct the new westbound structure,” according to the FDOT press release.

More preliminary construction will be drainage improvements, relocating above and underground utilities, installing erosion control devices, lane shifts, and finalizing needed permits. The early activities will begin beneath the west side of the current bridge in Fort Walton Beach before advancing to the east end of the structure on Okaloosa Island.

FDOT plans to replace the four-lane bridge on U.S. 98 that opened in 1966 with a new six-lane structure across Santa Rosa Sound. The new bridge will start at Perry Ave. and end at Pier Rd.

Currently, the bridge stops at Santa Rosa Blvd. The new bridge will have a separate turn-off and underpass section for traffic heading to and from Santa Rosa Blvd.

The larger construction projects will start in the spring of 2023 and is estimated to be done by mid 2027. While major disruptions are not planned, expect changes and delays to tourist season this year.

“Drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and nearby properties may be impacted by the early construction efforts and the associated traffic shifts. All activities are weather-dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway,” said FDOT.