WASTE WATCH: Escambia County Road projects

Updated: Monday, February 17 2014, 07:44 PM CST
WASTE WATCH:  Escambia County Road projects story image
We've all been there stuck in traffic, feeling like we're getting nowhere fast.
It's the same for several road improvement projects in the area, stuck in gridlock with delays costing our area jobs, growth and lots of your tax dollars.

We all hate waiting.   Waiting is hard. 
Sitting in traffic, wondering when or if  this road will ever be wider or extended to that other road making it easier to get across town...

It's progress but progress that can take a long, long time.
Larry Newsom/Escambia Co. Interim Administrator
"You've got your environmental documents. Then you have to design it based on what you have to mitigate for. Then you have to aquire right of way. Then you build it. That's your four major phases that you look at funding on a major project."

Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County have a slew of road improvement projects needing to be done but finding the funding can be hard.   Local government is now working more closely with the state to get things moving.

Jim Melvin/Santa Rosa Co, Commissioner
"They have the resources we don't. It would be very burdensome on the local taxpayer without some help from the state."

Larry Newsom
"When you determine why roadways have to go through these multi-million dollar upgrades, it's not because we want to."

"You don't sit back and say well, I have an extra 40 million I want to spend, there's a need. In purpose and need, always, safety is first."

The federal government has money to help but that help comes with some strings attached.

"The Federal Highway Adminstration shows up and says you know we would really like to be the lead agency."

"We all thought is was a great idea, still thinking a project itseld should go through maybe two years to three years just to get through your environmental documents. Well here we are in 2014."

Projects that have been in planning since 2007 or longer are still on hold. And that means more red tape and environmental studies...

"They paid 50 percent to get us through a PD&E update because it had been sitting on the shelf for ten years. And Burgess-Creighton extension had been sitting on the shelf for ten years. And the county, we took it upon ourself, to partner with DOT to take it off the shelf. Then we have to go through PD&E updates, which you know is about 650,000 dollars."

"if you look at the dollars we've invested in this it's heartbreaking, because there's still a crash history out there, there's still a lack of pedestrian facilities on these roadways."

Improving our roads is about more than an easier trip across town or making it safer for citizens.

Northwest Florida is hoping to capitalize on Airbus arriving in Mobile by luring in supporting business...

Jim Melvin
"It's critical that we have this infrastructure." "What's important as you're courting these industries is that they see that there's a plan in place, and that there is an effort in place to accomodate that need."

Larry Newsom
"Why would a company want to come to a place if they can't get there goods in, and the materials to make those goods in, and goods going out."

"We want those jobs. Infrastructure is the foundation of all jobs."
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WASTE WATCH: Escambia County Road projects
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