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State representatives and Ft. Walton leaders discuss future of Brooks Bridge
Department of Transportation officials and state representatives met with Ft. Walton Beach business leaders last week.
They discussed the future of the Brooks Bridge, after a very eventful year.
Channel Three's Rob Brown is in Ft. Walton with the details of that conversation, and reactions from community members.
Two thousand and thirteen was a dramatic year for the Brooks Bridge. Back in March it was struck by a passing barge, causing structural damage to its underside. This past weekend, an out of control motorist hit this concrete barrier, forcing its replacement. And on Friday, the Department of Transportation met with community leaders to put a timetable on the ultimate fate of the bridge."
DOT District Secretary, Tommy Barfield, says after evaluation, the agency suggests a new bridge.
Barfield says federal funding is easier to obtain than to expand, or add another bridge.
Ted Corcoran "They had again made a decision, in advance of this meeting, that they felt this was the best plan. They in turn were sharing their opinions with us, and looking at return from our folks in the room, 'what do you think about it?'"
Ted Corcoran is CEO of the Ft. Walton Chamber of Commerce.
He believes the dot took the best interest of Ft. Walton to mind when making their suggestion.
Ted Corcoran "I think that they felt that this was the best plan for Ft. Walton. They did not feel an additional bridge was an option. This was a feeling of what the FDOT people felt was best for Ft. Walton."
Brian O'Neill owns a restaurant at the foot of the bridge.
He says regardless of the decision, the process should be open to the community.
Brian O'Neill "We just made some plans as far as expanding our operation, and we've made a five year plan. And if that five year plan is all of the sudden completely thrown for a loop..that's some information that we definitely could've used before. And we're definitely concerned about that."
Now the department of transportation and state representatives have said that if the community does not reach a consensus, no action will be taken. In Ft. Walton Beach, Rob Brown, Channel Three News.