Pace residents will soon be strapping on their sneakers, with new avenues for pedestrians to get around.



Santa Rosa County is expected to begin a $646,126.50 sidewalk project near Benny Russell Park in August, according to County Engineer Roger Blaylock.



The sidewalk will loop around Spencer Field, with a leg extending north to Benny Russell Park. The path will also extend south and connect to an existing sidewalk that runs east and west along Norris Road by Pace High School.



"There's a lot of positive things when you get folks into the neighborhood," Blaylock said. "It serves a community purpose."



Blaylock said the sidewalks will be suitable for walking, jogging and cycling, as well as providing non-vehicular traffic access to Benny Russell Park. The sidewalk project is part of a transportation enhancement program.



The project is being 100 percent funded by federal dollars administered by the Florida Department of Transportation, Blaylock said. An FDOT local agency program (LAP) provided for every aspect of the project - from design, consulting and inspection is included. Santa Rosa County does not have any obligation to match funds.



The LAP program funded similar projects such as the Florida Historic State Road 1 reconstruction, also known as the Red Brick Road. It provided funding for a recent sidewalk project in Jay.



To qualify for the funding, the county had to adhere to strict federal guidelines in place, Blaylock said. The scope of the project was very detailed and the project was updated as the county moved closer to the top of the list for funding. The guidelines dictated certain permits were acquired, the procurement of land, inspections, Equal Employment Opportunity standards were being met as wells as adhering to a prevailing wage rate.



Blaylock said the County applied for the FDOT LAP funding "years ago."



The Navy had initial reservations with increased foot traffic around the airfield, Blaylock said. But the county worked closely with the military in acquiring shared use of the land.



"The Navy is a full partner with this," Blaylock said. "We have worked every step of the way, because it is Navy property."



As part of the project, portions of the airfield's fence will be removed and replaced to address security concerns, Blaylock said. The sidewalk will meander around several large heritage oak trees on North Spencer Field, preserving as many as possible.



Panhandle Grading and Paving Inc. was awarded the contract to perform the work. They have 270 days to complete the project, looking at a potential completion date of June 8, 2014, according to Blaylock.