NAVARRE — One of the latest places planning to make it easier to leave the car parked and walk or bike around town instead is Navarre.
It has several pathways that will eventually link the community together and make it more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
This includes the 9.8-mile stretch of East Bay Boulevard from U.S. Highway 98 to State Road 87. Plus, separately there is the 2.9-mile Edgewood Drive pathway from East Bay Boulevard to U.S 98.
Emerald Coast Regional Council Transportation Planning Organization is conducting a corridor management study on the path that runs along the north side of East Bay Boulevard to look at improvements it can do to make more people want to use it.
Already, the state transportation planners and interested community members have traveled the East Bay Boulevard path on bike, foot and even skateboard. It also held a public hearing to get input from residents.
Additionally, transportation officials gathered traffic counts, crashes and the speed of cars along the street that cuts through the north end of Navarre.
Mary Beth Washnock, the transportation manager, said officials will put together a plan and cost estimate to achieve the path suggestions by February 2020. The projects will be done by the TPO or county.
"It’s a good mult-use path," Washnock said. "Most neighborhoods don’t have that amenity."
Walking and biking paths started becoming popular in the United States in the 1980s. Encouraging people to ride bikes or walk helps reduce traffic congestion among other benefits.
Some of the ideas to improve East Bay Boulevard, so far, include:
• Adding crosswalks, especially near the Hidden Creek Golf Course.
• Cutting back overgrowth and eliminating root growth that makes the path uneven.
• Putting benches along the long pathway.
• Creating a few turn lanes at busier intersections.
• Installing traffic circles to slow down traffic.
• Constructing a small parking lot where people can park, so they can enjoy the pathway.
Dave Piech, the Santa Rosa County commissioner for District 4 that represents Navarre, said he is excited about seeing the plan implemented. In particular, he looks forward to a bridge over Tom King Bayou along the East Bay Boulevard pathway.
"We’ve been talking about it for years and years and years," Piech said. "I’m all for bike-ped folks getting around. It’s outstanding."