UPDATE 2:43 P.M. All lanes, both eastbound and westbound, are back open at this time, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
UPDATE 2:03 P.M. Officials now say U.S. Highway 98 will reopen at 3:15 p.m.
Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Ian Satter said at 2 p.m Monday that Gulf Power officials were just finishing up getting power lines moved to new poles and securing underground cables. Southern Light Company and Cox Communications are still "on standby" to begin their necessary repairs.
UPDATE 12:21 P.M. Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Ian Satter said U.S. Highway 98 was expected to reopen at around 2 p.m. Monday, nearly five hours after officials originally said the highway was expected to reopen.
The highway in between Henderson Beach Boulevard and Kelly Plantation Drive has been closed since around 1 a.m. Monday morning after a dump truck struck a power line, causing the power pole to snap and several power lines to fall across all four lines of U.S. Highway 98.
Satter said Gulf Power was still working on re-hanging its lines and repairing the pole at 12:20 p.m. Southern Light Company and Cox Communications were "on standby" to begin repairing their lines after Gulf Power is done, and will work consecutively to expedite the process.
Satter said an estimated "tens of thousands" of cars that normally travel on that stretch of highway have had to be diverted to back roads, including Commons Drive West.
DESTIN — Downed power lines forced the closure of all four lanes of U.S. Highway 98 Sunday evening into Monday, snarling Monday morning traffic as vehicles were being diverted to back roads.
Jeff Rogers, spokesman for Gulf Power, said a dump truck with a raised bed crashed into a power pole Sunday evening in a construction area of U.S. Highway 98, causing several power lines to go down across all four lanes. The incident occurred near 34761 Emerald Coast Parkway, just before Henderson Beach Drive, an area where the Florida Department of Transportation is currently widening the highway.
Rogers said the incident was first reported to them at around 4:45 p.m. Sunday. Eight Gulf Power customers were affected. Cox Communications and Southern Light Company were also on scene, as some of the power lines belonged to them as well.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office announced all four lanes were shut down just before 1 a.m. Monday morning as crews worked to repair the power pole and said the highway should reopen by 9 a.m. However, the Sheriff's Office said at 9 a.m. the highway was expected to reopen at "around 12:30" Monday.
Rogers said Gulf Power had "all hands on deck" to fix the issue, but estimated at 10 a.m. that it would take another two and a half hours for crews to reset the pole and re-hang the lines. After that, Cox Communications and Southern Light Company would have to repair their lines.
Traffic is being diverted to Commons Drive West. Both eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 98 are currently backed up for at least a mile both ways.
We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.