U.S. 98 flyover for Navarre nixed

Posted on October 25, 2018 by Romi White

The Florida Department of Transportation has been conducting a study of transportation alternatives for U.S. 98, and county officials this week confirmed that a future elevated roadway for U.S. 98 in Navarre has been removed from present consideration, following Hurricane Michael’s devastating impact on the Florida Panhandle. 
The budgetary impact of the storm could also have a negative impact on other options included in the Greater Navarre Area’s master plan, which was presented this week to county commissioners.

More than one million power outages and at least 39 deaths resulted from the storm – one of the most intense hurricanes to make U.S. landfall, according to authorities, who say the costs will add up to many billion dollars and leave state officials scrambling to deal with Florida’s long-term recovery costs.

But some local leaders say Navarre’s loss of the flyover option may not be problematic.

Santa Rosa County District 4 Commissioner Rob Williamson has been working with a group of developers who are moving forward with plans to build a movie theater, retail and restaurant venues on a roughly 33-acre parcel in the heart of Navarre.

“These are premier, community-minded developers who have a vision to provide a unique Navarre gathering place. They have been meticulous about every phase of this project, and they have carefully evaluated all the alternatives for improving traffic on Hwy 98 through the heart of Navarre,” Williamson said.

Williamson told South Santa Rosa News on Wednesday that after evaluating all of the options those developers have concluded that a non-elevated or “at grade” widening of U.S. 98 to six lanes is the best option.

Greater Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce CEO TJ Goulet agrees.

“The chamber board and many community leaders have been working with Santa Rosa County and FDOT leadership on the U.S. 98 expansion. We are very excited to see continued progress and appreciate FDOT’s thorough review and are happy they have chosen a plan that limits the negative impact on local businesses and Navarre Park while fulfilling the much needed capacity expansion.”

Meanwhile, a master plan for the 27 square miles in the Greater Navarre area has been completed, and Matrix Design Group, the firm hired to facilitate the District 4 study, this week presented the results to  Santa Rosa County Commissioners.

However, that plan includes concepts, such as the U.S. 98 flyover option for Navarre, which may need to be revisited after the final recovery costs for Hurricane Michael are tallied.

The master plan effort was aimed to provide a long-range planning document to shape the future of Santa Rosa County Commission District 4, and the public weighed in at two town hall meetings and through a community survey.

Graphic courtesy Matrix Design Group

The master plan includes conceptual plan drawings, such as the one above, which sketch out ideas for possible future land use. However, the designs are conceptual and do not necessarily reflect actual plans. For example, in the designs, the conceptual plan for Hwy. 87 S depicts as greenspace a parcel of land recently purchased for construction of a business.