FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The Florida Department of Transportation is conducting an ‘Around the Mound’ study project for possible changes to Highway 98 in Fort Walton Beach.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, FDOT announced the start of a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study Downtown.
The proposed conceptual improvements would include State Road 30 (US 98) from State Road 189 (Beal Pkwy) to the west end of Brooks Bridge, and north along State Road 85 to south of Hollywood Blvd.
According to FDOT, the study comes from the City of Fort Walton Beach Downtown Masterplan in May 2019 and the FDOT Feasibility Study in Aug. 2020. The purpose of the study is to address capacity and safety issues and re-route U.S. 98 around the downtown core of Fort Walton Beach.
The city’s masterplan has the goal to improve the aesthetics of Downtown Fort Walton Beach while reducing traffic congestion.
FDOT said the study is a formal process that develops and compares alternatives to determine a preferred action that meets project needs while minimizing impacts on the social, natural, and physical environments.
- During the PD&E study, conceptual alternatives will be developed. These alternatives will include roadway capacity, intersection, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements. Potential impacts associated with the alternatives will be analyzed, documented and presented to the public for input.
The project has a six-step schedule. The study is step three. According to the six-step transportation development process, the PD&E is step two, the following steps have not yet been funded.
Over the next several months, FDOT will collect and analyze engineering and environmental data to help compare the project alternatives. An alternatives public meeting and a public hearing will be held to provide interested parties the most current information on the project and provide an opportunity for input. The public meeting is anticipated to be held in early 2024.