LETTER: 30A bridge project at Big Redfish Lake

Roger Bonk

To: Walton County BCC Members

Thankfully, the Draper Lake bridge project has now been completed. After a 5 month absence, I'm now able to drive the western portion of 30A and get re-acquainted with some local businesses. Getting there was just too much hassle during the road closure. After reading the recent story in The Sun, I see I had plenty of company.

The next scheduled bridge closure at Redfish promises to be even more disruptive. I'm wondering if BCC members have any understanding at all of the pain and inconvenience you're causing with this never ending series of road closures? Real people live along the 30A corridor. Its not just a playground for summer tourists. We depend on 30A for our everyday and emergency transportation needs.

If BCC members choose to disregard the needs of residents, taxpayers and voters, you should still consider the impact on local businesses. Redfish will be a bigger project than Draper, requiring a longer closure and cutting off a substantial number of customers from the east. Detouring via 98 will be a major hassle, with a lengthy back up on CR 283 from the traffic light. Many local customers will just not bother. Some businesses might not be able to survive. They depend on local customers when the big spending tourists are not around. The BCC could be responsible for putting them out of business. Think about that.

I urge the BCC to re-think the Redfish bridge project. You should re-evaluate both the need for the project, and how to reduce its impact on local residents and businesses. The Redfish situation is different than Draper. Instead of a rickety temporary bridge, there's an existing causeway that works just fine. I run over the footbridge every morning and see the culvert flushing water between the north and south lakes. So, what's the problem? Why not just do some regular culvert maintenance? In the five years I've lived here there's never been a problem, even with many heavy rainstorms. Why "fix" something that doesn't need fixing? Or, perhaps the whole issue is driven by money? To do a project involving this much disruption, just because State funding happens to be available, would be inexcusable. Just put the whole thing on hold for a year and re-evaluate.

When you re-evaluate, consider other ways to do the project, which don't require a lengthy road closure. Why not consider building the new bridge parallel to the existing roadway, which would stay open during construction? Or, how about setting up a temporary bridge around the construction site? I've seen both approaches work well on other highways around the state.

Also, how about getting some advance community input? In the Draper project the original detour plan was a disaster. It was fortunate that no one was killed. Anyone who drives the route regularly could have told you it was just foolhardy to funnel heavy traffic along CR 83 to the uncontrolled intersection at 98. That's what happens when project planning is left totally up to the bureaucrats.

Thanks for your attention.

Roger Bonk

Santa Rosa Beach