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Okaloosa County breaks ground on 4-mile photoluminescent multi-use path, first in Florida

Okaloosa County broke ground on a 4-mile multi-use path featuring bioluminescent technology, connecting Brooks and Marler bridges. The $3.7 million project, championed by Commissioner Ketchel, aims to improve safety and recreation on Okaloosa Island.

Okaloosa County officials and community leaders gathered Monday morning to break ground on a new multi-use path that will feature photoluminescent technology, marking a first for the state of Florida.

  • The ceremony, held at 7 a.m. on July 8, 2024, at Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island, celebrated the start of construction on the four-mile path connecting Brooks Bridge and Marler Bridge.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, who has championed the project for five years, revealed an exciting feature of the new path. “We will be the first in the great state of Florida to have four-and-a-half miles of photoluminescent rock,” Ketchel announced. “At night, it’s going to glow a nice blue.”

Public Works Director Jason Autrey explained the innovative technology: “It’s really a glow-in-the-dark rock. They’ll put the asphalt down, throw this rock on top, spread it out, and when they roll it, it embeds in the top.” Autrey added that the blueish-teal color was chosen to mimic the local waters.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel and Public Works Director Jason Autrey at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 4-mile path across Okaloosa Island

The project, aimed at improving safety and recreation, has been a collaborative effort. Ketchel acknowledged key contributors, including Dale Marks, Executive Director of the 96th Test Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, for his crucial role in moving the project forward.

  • Other leaders responsible for making this project a reality included Rep. Patt Maney, Commissioners Mel Ponder, Nathan Boyles, and Paul Mixon, and developer Jay Odom, who made a private donation to support the project many years ago.
Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, Rep. Patt Maney and Dale Marks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 4-mile path across Okaloosa Island

The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a $3.7 million contract with C.W. Roberts Contracting Inc. in May 2024 for the path’s construction.

  • The 12-foot wide path will offer cyclists and pedestrians a protected route along U.S. Highway 98, with plans including shoulder and parking area stabilization.

“We’re making this stretch of Highway 98 safe, and it will make a difference in the lives of those who need to travel to work or for their recreation,” Ketchel stated, emphasizing the path’s importance for residents, military personnel, and visitors.

The project, funded through multiple sources including tourism revenue and an FDOT grant, is expected to be completed and open to the public in early 2025.

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“Is the child still living? Great job saving this baby.”
“Just around the corner in Mossy Head!”
“Called the number listed 850 882 6258 which asks for a mailbox number. Not helpful. Looking for more information on hiring event scheduled for July 24 & July 25”
“The baby floated from their boat about 100 ft down to my boat, where family members seen bathing suit and the wife's sent alex over to get it. When he...”
“Not a good idea, it will block traffic both at entry and exit. There is also too much water drainage that would have nowhere to go and cause flooding. Just...”
“What is an 11 month old doing in the water by itself?”
“Congratulations to you, Dr. Kelley!”
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“It would have been nice to see a photo of Mr. Hinely”