On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced the kickoff of the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study for the “Around the Mound” project in Downtown Fort Walton Beach.
- The proposed conceptual improvements include State Road 30 (U.S. 98) from S.R. 189 (Beal Parkway) to the west end of Brooks Bridge and north along S.R. 85 to south of Hollywood Boulevard.
According to FDOT, the PD&E study is the formal process that develops and compares alternatives to determine a preferred action that meets project needs while minimizing impacts to the social, natural, and physical environments.
- The purpose of this study is to address capacity and safety issues and re-route U.S. 98 around the downtown core in Fort Walton Beach.
The PD&E study is based on the recommendations of the City of Fort Walton Beach Downtown Master Plan (May 2019) and the FDOT Feasibility Study (August 2020). The study will include developing conceptual alternatives for roadway capacity, intersection, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements. According to FDOT, potential impacts associated with the alternatives will be analyzed, documented and presented for public input.
FDOT will collect and analyze data over the next several months to help develop project alternatives. Maps, drawings, and additional details will be provided as they become available for review.
- The alternatives public meeting is anticipated to be held in early 2024.
The “Around the Mound” project aims to improve safety and reduce congestion in the area by creating a bypass around the downtown area, while enhancing the overall aesthetic of the downtown area.
- The project involves the construction of a new roadway and the installation of new infrastructure, such as traffic signals and pedestrian crossings.
The PD&E study will provide a critical step in the process of re-routing Highway 98 around the Indian Temple Mound museum in Downtown Fort Walton Beach.