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Brooks Bridge meeting
The 48 year old Brooks Bridge has to be replaced. That's no longer an option. But how to do it, and what else to do; those are options. Options that were discussed in a public workshop Thursday evening.
Earlier this year it was announced the Florida Department of Transportation would receive six million dollars to study the Brooks Bridge, with two objectives. One, which is not optional, is how to best replace the Brooks Bridge, either at its current location or in another. The second, which is optional, is whether or not to add another bridge elsewhere. Thursday's meeting saw people frmo around the area speak out on the issue.
John Hofstad, the county's Public Works Director, said "Those are design considerations we have to bring into play, and when we do that, there will be right-of-way acquisitions involved in it."
Business owners on both sides of the bridge are concerned about losing their property to a new bridge, as guidelines would force the bridge to be longer, and less steep.
One Ft. Walton Beach resident said "Utilizing the current footprint will be the least disruptive for residents and businesses. Hopefully the FDOT will design operations to reduce traffic flow on US 98 on both sides of the Brooks Bridge."
How a new bridge would affect traffic was another hotly discussed topic. But, the biggest and most contested issue was from people living on Okaloosa Island, who showed up in mass to argue against a plan that would see a bridge route traffic across the island.
Island resident John Sherry said "No reasonable person would ruin their tourist destination, Okaloosa Island, to improve downtown Ft. Walton Beach. As much as I like Ft. Walton Beach, no one comes from Alabama or Louisiana to see downtown."
In their resolution the Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce asked all residents of the area to keep an open mind to any and all possibilities.