SPEAKING OUT: Solutions to tourists’ impact — past, present, and future

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 16:02 PM.

Your first reaction is: “It can’t be done because the Gulf-front owners would prevent the boardwalk!” that is what was said in all the other beaches and they proceeded. Those owners will be the first people going for their morning walks/runs on the boardwalk. Your second reaction is: “The boardwalk and the needed changes to the roads and infrastructure will cost millions!”

When you simmer down and consider the suggestions, you will agree that somehow they need to be done. Forward-thinking counties have created such an amenity. We can no longer ask our tourists to put their children on bikes on the existing bike path that is the shoulder of the highway. Having bikes on the shoulder of 30A is irresponsible. Someone is going to get killed. All walking/jogging and recreational bike riding should be on the Gulf-front boardwalk.

A hurricane may wash away the boardwalk, but we are impacted by a hurricane, on the average, every 10 years. That many years of enjoyment of the boardwalk for all that live here and visit here is just about the time for the maintenance of the boardwalk anyway.

Not just a few, but hundreds of other oceanfront areas in the United States have successfully achieved this. We just need to start the planning. There has been a plan in the works since 1996, but not much has progressed. We have to restart the plan now, since the millions from the BP settlement will be here to pay for the suggested changes.

Additionally, the Southwest Airlines half-cent payment from the TDC is being reduced or eliminated. With those funds staying in the TDC, that half-cent could provide substantial funding toward paying for the suggestions. There are also the Obama infrastructure funds that could be allocated.

In that regard, here are more specific issues to contemplate for the betterment of Walton County:

*Seasidepresents a bottleneck to the widening of 30A at Seaside, but the county could buy the right-of-way to allow the widening there.



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