The Walton County Hurricane & Storm Damage Reduction Project receives Congressional Authorization


A Citizens Property Insurance plan is drawing criticism because it would drain Citizens' large surplus — built up in part through rate increases and reduced coverage for existing customers — and hurt the company's ability to withstand a major hurricane without any guarantee the money would be repaid. (AP archive)

Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:25 PM.

The Walton County Tourist Development Council (WCTDC) is pleased to announce Congressional Authorization for construction of the Walton County Hurricane & Storm Damage Reduction Project (Walton County HSDR) in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). In a 91-7 vote yesterday, the U.S Senate approved the 2014 WRRDA bill and submitted it to the President for his signature. The bipartisan bill was approved earlier this week with a 412-4 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Walton County HSDR project is an 18.8 mile long, federal, beach and dune restoration project that is designed to provide hurricane and storm damage protection to upland areas along the Walton County shoreline. The project has five phases and was initiated in 2002 with Congressional Authorization to conduct a Reconnaissance Study. The other four phases are a Feasibility Study, Pre-Construction Engineering and Design, Construction, and Monitoring. Currently, the project is in the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design Phase which includes all steps necessary to prepare the project to be bid for Construction.

“We are excited that we have received Congressional approval for the construction of the Walton County HSDR Project,” said Jim Bagby, executive director of the WCTDC. “This effort has been underway for over a dozen years and this is a major hurdle that was necessary to make us eligible for construction.”

The WRRDA Bill authorizes the project for initial construction and additional restorations for up to 50 years. Current estimates place the initial construction cost at over $64 million with the federal government responsible for almost $18 million and the non-federal sponsor over $46 million. Walton County will be pursuing state grants to assist in paying the non-federal portion. In addition, the local portion will be paid for using tourist occupancy taxes and a loan secured against future tourist occupancy tax collections. No additional funding sources are anticipated from local sources.

“I want to thank all who have been involved in the process, specifically Walton County and the Congressional Delegation, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Taylor Engineering and Marlowe & Company,” said Brad Pickel, project manager and president of Seahaven Consulting. “We still have a few more steps to complete before we will see the beaches restored, but we are making progress to bring this project to fruition.”

In the coming months, efforts will be focused on three main areas:

  1. Design, Engineering and Permitting by the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  2. Project Coordination and Securing Construction Easements by the WCTDC
  3. Securing Federal and State Funding by Walton County

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