While residents hit hard by last week’s floods in Escambia and Santa Rosa County begin applying for federal assistance, work is underway at the state and local levels on repairing virtually washed-away roadways.
Ian Satter at the state Department of Transportation’s Quincy office says repairs are underway on some of the roads, and they’re mobilizing contractors to begin work on several others.
“They are a priority for us and we want to get them started as quickly as possible,” said Satter. “It’s just that the repairs are more complex than others.”
The washed-out areas of Scenic Highway are at Baywalk Circle, Wimbledon Drive and Summit Boulevard. The complexities that Satter mentioned can take myriad forms, from the amount of damage, to what materials are needed to complete the job.
Other work under the DOT umbrella includes Lillian Highway at Dog Track Road; U-S 98 at Trout Road, and Mobile Highway at Eleven Mile Creek. Satter says because of the multiple projects, there’s no one set target date for completion. In Escambia, 700 sites – roads and bridges – have been identified as having been damaged by the storms. County spokesman Bill Pearson says of those, more than one hundred have been addressed.
“Now, addressed means that they’ve been temporarily repaired so they’re usable again, or they do have a permanent fix in place,” Pearson said. “Crews are working 12-hour days at the very least, to address the issues with the (roads) remaining on that list.”
Damages to roads and bridges in Escambia alone is estimated at $23 million, and that figure could go up in the next few weeks.
Inside the Pensacola city limits, repairs are underway on Tarragona Street from Jackson to Gadsden Streets. Work to restore Piedmont Road – destroyed, should be completed in less than a month.
In Santa Rosa County, Administrator Hunter Walker says the first step in road repairs is what he calls getting the work sites “safed up” for crews. If you are stopped for a traffic violation in a construction zone with workers present, Florida law doubles the fines for such offenses.
Santa Rosa County officials have been working with FEMA and the state DOT in compiling a list of both individual losses, and damage to roads and infrastructure – totaling about five million dollars. With hurricane season just three weeks away, Walker says there’s a heightened sense of urgency to get all of the work done.
“There’s always a sense of urgency before a hurricane season,” said Walker.
In Gulf Breeze, the assessment is on hold until floodwaters recede. Some trouble spots already identified are a part of Bear Drive and on roads in the Plantation Hill subdivision.
When it comes to traveling through the area amid the road construction and repair, DOT’s Ian Satter has some basic advice. – be patient and when you come to a “Detour” sign, take the detour.