Unofficial map outlining approximate location of the proposed Highway 98 Collector Road, west of Hurlburt Field.

Okaloosa County proposes new Highway 98 ‘collector road’ to alleviate traffic congestion

Unofficial map outlining approximate location of the proposed Highway 98 Collector Road, west of Hurlburt Field.

On January 11, 2023, the Northwest Florida Legislative Delegation held a meeting at the Okaloosa County Admin Building in Shalimar, Florida. 

  • During the meeting, Chairman of the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners, Trey Goodwin, presented Okaloosa County’s Legislative Priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session, which included a proposed project to construct a new roadway parallel to Highway 98 in order to alleviate traffic congestion in the area west of Hurlburt Field.

According to Commissioner Goodwin, the proposed project consists of constructing an approximate 3-mile roadway that runs parallel to Highway 98 and will provide significant relief to congestion along US 98 for all the residential areas west of Hurlburt Field. The new collector road will allow for the relocation of access to Florosa Elementary; thereby removing school turning traffic from US 98.

  • According to the county, the road would start near Solar Street (near Arby’s) and end at Green Drive. 

The new roadway, which is being referred to as the West Highway 98 Collector Road, involves multiple agencies with preliminary coordination efforts having occurred with FDOT, Eglin Air Force Base, Okaloosa County School District, and Santa Rosa County. 

According to Okaloosa County, Water and Sewer also has a need to run additional utilities in conjunction with this roadway, and funds are needed to move forward with an environmental study and design, estimated to cost $750,000. 

To date, Eglin staff has provided preliminary approval for use of Federal property to accommodate the construction of the new collector road and utilities, according to the county. County staff is moving forward with the development of the required environmental documents and preliminary design for submission to Eglin.

Unofficial map outlining approximate location of the proposed Highway 98 Collector Road, west of Hurlburt Field.

According to the county, improved access, safety, and traffic flow can be expected once the proposed improvements are in place. In addition, the collector road could have a bicycle/pedestrian component to allow alternative transportation methods to Florosa Elementary School. 

  • Funding requested at this time will be utilized for the development of the required Environmental and Preliminary design documents that will be submitted to Eglin in order to obtain the necessary land easements.

The county is requesting $375,000 in funding from the State, which will be matched with local dollars, for the environmental assessments necessary for this project. 

“I will tell you that in my time in office, one of the biggest complaints that I’ve had from our partners across the fence at Hurlburt has been Highway 98 traffic and getting their people to and from work. This is an opportunity to leverage a new roadway,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “We think it would be very worthwhile and represent a huge benefit, not only to Okaloosa County, but to Hurlburt and those who commute in from Santa Rosa County, quite frankly as well.”

Representative Dr. Joel Rudman, who represents Santa Rosa County, was part of the legislative delegation and commended Commissioner Goodwin and Okaloosa County for making the topic of traffic west of Hurlburt Field a priority, as it does affect his district.

“If you ask me, the number one issue in District 3 is the traffic to and from Hurlburt,” he said. “For anyone who doesn’t believe that, I would encourage you to meet me at my office in Navarre. We’ll meet at 4:00pm. You can drive from Fort Walton to Navarre at 4:00pm and we’ll probably end up meeting at 6:00pm, so it’s a very real issue.”

7 Responses

  1. This is great, I live three miles West of hurlburt field. I drop my wife off at the island for work at three o’clock I sometimes get home around 430 even 5. I have to drive through 2 school zones. And God forbid there’s an accident

  2. Unfortunately where this proposed road joins jest west of Hurlburt doesn’t address the problem. The off-ramp to HAFB (East bound) binds up morning traffic all the way back to the school – it’s too short and if there is a gate shut down, the traffic is affect back to Parrish Point and beyond. The on ramp (west bound) from HAFB is too short for effective merging, which backs traffic back to Doolittle. and now you are going to add an intersection just a few blocks from that mess from Hurlburt.
    Who ever proposed this “solution” doesn’t commute on this section of 98 on a regular basis!

  3. Quality of Life Issue, safety, emotionally,
    financially, travel time, personal family time, first responders response time improvement, employment promptness,
    sigh of relief! Build it yesterday!

  4. Please halt all future commercial business development along 98 corridor as well. Certainly no more direct access to hwy 98 should be developed. Longer turn lanes are needed the entire length, especially entering the base for eastbound traffic in the mornings. Pass a law to move ALL fender bender accidents with no serious injury OFF the Hwy and require patrolmen to direct traffic during rush hours until the accident is cleared. Don’t ever permit landscaping crews to close down lanes and work during rush hour either. I’ve seen this, which defies belief, really.

  5. I like that the conversation is now getting traction and plans are being put into works. Something is better than nothing. It would be a great first step, but I think to alleviate the traffic on 98 that bypass should run all the way to Highway 87 with a few off ramps along 98. Similarly to 293 in Niceville.

  6. This would be great but agreed with another comment that this should extend all the way to 87. It will create a bottleneck where it rejoins 98 otherwise.

  7. What imbecile looks at a problem where most of your traffic is from Navarre to the base and proposes a solution that only adds a 5 mile jug handle within the problem zone and thinks it will help at all? Can’t wait to see that studies that show it actually slows the progress of traffic through these areas. You could remove half the traffic from 98 just by adding a base access road that stretches to 87 or at least panhandle trail. And solve the issue of base traffic backing up onto the throughway in the mornings. Problem solved. Send me your consultants salary because they don’t deserve it.

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