Road proposal could wipe out Navarre businesses

PHOTO: A road construction sign. Cropped Photo: Courtesy of MGN/Tony Magpantay

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is now doing a study to see the best way to widen Highway 98 between Gulf Breeze and Mary Esther. There are several ideas on the table, but one has some business owners concerned.

The idea is to put a round-about where Hwy 98 intersects with Hwy 87 and 399. Highway 98 would be elevated above the round-about.

Tommy Cox owns Tommy's New Orleans Snow Balls. They've been at the foot of the Navarre Bridge for nearly 30 years.

Cox said, "The location is very important. That's always the key, location location location."

The proposed round-about would likely make him move locations. He agrees the traffic is an issue, but not at the expense of small businesses.

He said, "It can't help the businesses. We are such a small town and there's only a handful of us anyway. I've been here 30 years, and I would hate to go away."

Bob Benaquis owns TC's Front Porch. They're in the same situation.

He said, "If there's another way, there should be a better way."

However most people agree, the traffic is a real problem and something needs to be done. Burt Pullum used to serve on a transportation committee.

"I think we need to have an open mind and look into everything and solve the major problem. When we talk about problems we have in Navarre, transportation is top of the list, " said Pullum.

Transportation officials said the study will likely take two to three years and the public will be asked for input. After the study is done, the project will have to be funded and bid out. It's something that is still several years away.

FDOT will be holding two public meetings on Tuesday, Oct. 24th and Thursday, Oct. 26th, from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the Navarre Conference Center.

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