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12-foot wide ‘bridge-to-bridge’ bike path across Okaloosa Island gets final approval

County officials took another big step this week toward finally making the long-envisioned Bridge to Bridge multi-use pathway a reality. The professional oversight work follows last month’s ratification of Eglin […]

$2 million for US 98 Bridge-to-Bridge Multi-Use Path from West Okaloosa Island to Destin (Okaloosa Public Information Office)

County officials took another big step this week toward finally making the long-envisioned Bridge to Bridge multi-use pathway a reality.

  • On Tuesday, the Okaloosa Board of Commissioners unanimously backed a $612,999 contract with Neel-Schaffer, Inc. to handle construction engineering and inspection services as the dedicated bicycle/pedestrian route along Scenic Highway 98 begins to take shape this spring.

The professional oversight work follows last month’s ratification of Eglin Air Force Base easement allowing the project’s hard-won approvals to proceed. Most of the 4.7-mile path traversing from the Brooks Bridge in Fort Walton Beach to the Marler Bridge in Destin falls under federal land controlled by the base.

“We received word last week (Valentine’s Day) that it has been totally approved,” said an enthused Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel.

County leaders have pushed the safety-minded proposal allowing non-motorists to bypass traffic on Highway 98 for nearly five years. Ketchel has been particularly passionate given her brother died in a cycling accident when she was younger.

Public Works Director Jason Autrey confirmed engineering evaluations and bidding can start immediately thanks to securing the easement allowing use of Eglin property. He said the construction solicitation launches next Monday.

  • “We’re moving forward…and we cannot wait until we have a groundbreaking and then eventually a ribbon cutting on this,” Autrey told commissioners Tuesday.

The $612,999 contract with Neel-Schaffer tasked the firm with inspecting work on the project running from Beasley Park to the Marler Bridge. 

County leaders in January ratified a long-negotiated easement agreement with Eglin Air Force Base. The agreement requires the county fund the pathway’s construction and ongoing maintenance. It also obligates the county to upgrade access points between the highway and dunes, expand parking capacity at beach access ways, and better controls near the Marler Bridge.

Ketchel said the coastal pathway enables exercise opportunities for everyone from airmen at Eglin to neighborhood families seeking recreation.

  • “This is such a game changer, not only for the military, but for the community. The military personnel want it as much as our community wants it. It will be a safe way to get from bridge-to-bridge,” she said.

The project is estimated to cost $4-5 million and will be funded through state grants and Tourist Development dollars.

One Response

  1. I really think this is a great idea. My only concern is what is planned at the base of the Destin bridge. I am not a proponent of any development at the foot of the bridge. Allowing parking on an unimproved lot (sand) just we did years ago is fine. The fence protecting the wildlife and wildlife breading area must stay.
    Destin needs to keep their grubby hands off beautiful land the Airforce owns. Stay on your side of the pass. You can ruin the Destin side all you want. Leave our side as pristine as possible. You can never recreate old Fort Walton Beach/Okaloosa Island only disstroy it forever. Good example is the old Wayside Park. Look at it now, an eyesore!

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
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“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
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“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
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“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
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“Is there a limit on the amount?”
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“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
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“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
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“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”
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