The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved allocating $4 million in infrastructure surtax funds to continue the “Fifty-in-Five” dirt road stabilization project at its meeting Tuesday.
- The project aims to stabilize and pave the county’s remaining dirt roads within five years. There were originally about 190 miles of county-maintained dirt roads when the initiative was proposed in 2020.
“To say this has been a successful program is a complete understatement,” said Jason Autrey, Okaloosa County public works director.
With the newly approved $4 million, Autrey said the county can stabilize over 20 more miles of dirt roads in the next fiscal year. That will leave under 30 miles left to stabilize and 85 miles to be paved with asphalt.
Commissioner Nathan Boyles, who first proposed the project in 2020, said the recent use of a thin layer of hot mix asphalt “has been a substantial improvement” over the previous double chip seal method.
“I know in my district constituents are seeing and feeling the difference,” Boyles said. “The chip seal was the best we had at the time, but it certainly looks like we’re getting a better product at the end of the day with the hot mix.”
Boyles also noted the project seems to be boosting morale among public works employees.
- “They’re actually out there doing work that’s permanent and making a difference to citizens, which, at the end of the day, is their neighbors and friends and family members,” Boyles said.
Autrey said the only drawback to the improved road conditions is that the roads are now so smooth that drivers are speeding on them. This has prompted the Public Works department to reassess speed limits, chevron signs and other traffic controls to improve safety.