A controversial and dangerous turn lane is finally getting a makeover after the Florida Department of Transportation confirmed with South Santa Rosa News last week that it plans to tear it up and close it off for good.
That turn lane is in the heart of the City of Gulf Breeze and used to allow drivers to access Starbucks and the Neighborhood Walmart without having to use the traffic light on Northcliff Drive back when it was open. But a study from FDOT, and a suggestion from Chief of Police Robert Randle showed that the intersection was the most accident prone in the city and had to go.
Ian Satter, Public Information Director for the FDOT District 3 office confirmed last week that FDOT has secured funding to tear the turn lane up and close it for good.
Back in October 2014, FDOT closed off the turn lane with delineator posts. Those posts were originally too high and obstructed motorists’ views who were attempting to turn left heading northbound onto Hoffman Drive.
Previously, City Manager Edwin “Buz” Eddy said that when construction crews came through the city during the Highway 98 resurfacing project, they planned to seal off the turn lane and rebuild the median. But Satter said that is not the case.
“This is a completely different project,” Satter told South Santa Rosa News.
A project that is going to cost a little over $100,000 to complete.
“We should start that job at the end of March,” Satter said. “It should take about 90 days to complete.”
The project will completely seal off the turn lane and the median will be rebuilt and will be made flush with the rest of the median.
The turn lane was popular back when it was open, often used by motorists who needed their morning coffee. But Satter said the number of accidents at that cut through did not outweigh its popularity.
“We conducted a study and it’s based on the amount of crashes that have occurred at that intersection. We decided the best course for safety was to close that median access,” Satter said.
After a public hearing, FDOT made the temporary closure.