New underpass in the works for Inlet Beach

Nathan Cobb | 315-4432 | @WaltonSunNate |

The designing stages for the upcoming pedestrian underpass at U.S. Highway 98E in Inlet Beach is in the works.

However, there are no estimates for when construction will start or end, according to Ian Satter, public information director for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The current planning and design work should take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Louis Svehla, public information manager for Walton County, said the addition will be instrumental in helping reduce the risks pedestrians face while crossing U.S. 98 in that area.

"This will allow those pedestrians to cross under 98 certainly a whole lot more safely, so there's going to be less vehicular and pedestrian (accident) opportunities at that intersection," he said.

Earlier this year, Walton County submitted the underpass project to the state, according to Svehla, which was then taken over by the FDOT after a legislative appropriation process was approved that included a $2 million budget.

Currently, Walton County is no longer involved with the highway alteration in Inlet Beach. Svehla said FDOT has taken on the project as part of a five-year work plan.

In an email earlier this week, Satter said that a future public information meeting covering the underpass is scheduled for sometime in spring 2019, and that as that time approaches, more information regarding the date will be released. 

As of now, he said construction isn't funded, but the pedestrian underpass is being designed.

"It's really two-fold (project)," Satter said. "One (benefit) will be traffic, as there's a lot of pedestrian crossing from the south side of 98 to the north part of 98, this will help with pedestrian crossing, which in turn leads to the second part, which is safety."