NATIONAL SESHORE ROAD RECONSTRUCTION UPDATES
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Northwest Daily News reported on December 26, 2007 the article shown below.
Beach road should be open by mid-2008, officials say
Less costly materials are being used so repairs will be easier after storms
By LYNNE HOUGH email@example.com
NAVARRE BEACH — More than two years after Mother Nature had her way with the road to Pensacola Beach a second time, it will soon be safe to use again.
It has taken that long since Hurricane Dennis washed out repairs from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 for officials with Gulf Islands National Seashore and the Federal Highway Administration to decide how to rebuild State Road 399, which will likely be washed away again one day.
Do they use strong materials that will likely block the movement of sand and erosion near the road in case of another storm surge? Or do they make it a kinder, gentler road that could go with the flow and be rebuilt easily?
On one hand, a road built to block excessive erosion would not be eco-friendly. On the other, making it too compliant would possibly lead to more damage in the future.
The job was awarded in late August to Panhandle Grading and Pavement Inc. of Pensacola, which bid a little more than $3.41 million. Work includes rebuilding two lanes of the road from Navarre Beach to Opal Beach, along with repairing the parking and picnic areas at the park. A one-lane “emergency” road will also be built from Opal Beach to Pensacola Beach.
Jerry Eubanks, superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, said there wasn’t enough money awarded at the time to plan for a two-lane road all the way to Pensacola Beach. That has changed now, and after phase one is complete the same contractor will likely finish the job to Pensacola Beach.
Work has started at the eastern end of the road in Navarre Beach and should be finished about the middle of next year.
“Late spring or summer of 2008,” Eubanks said.
Some sections of SR 399, also known as J. Earl Bowden Way, are gone. Eubanks estimated about 35 percent of the road must be replaced. Instead of using traditional asphalt, the contractor has agreed to use a sand and concrete mix for the base. Asphalt on top of the road will make it look the same, but it will be less costly to replace and is more “environmentally acceptable,” Eubanks said.
“It fits conditions better and won’t cost as much to build it back,” he said. “That road is very vulnerable.”
Daily News Staff Writer Lynne Hough can be reached at 699-3884.