The Florida Department of Transportation has no interest in taking over the heavily trafficked Woodbine Road in Pace, two months after state Rep. Jayer Williamson called on FDOT to work with Santa Rosa County to come up with a solution for the major transportation artery.
District 1 County Commissioner Sam Parker said he and other county leaders met with FDOT officials earlier this month and determined that a state takeover of Woodbine Road would not be the best option for the state or the county.
"What was clear and apparent out of that meeting was that the DOT has absolutely no intention of taking over Woodbine Road," Parker told the News Journal. "However, they did state that they are going to try to help us as far as expeditiously pushing through this (infrastructure) grant ... (which) would be grant money to help us study that Five Points corridor, which is going to be a required step if we're going to get more state grant funding to be able to actually do construction."
Williamson formally requested the county and FDOT start working together back in November, citing "the increasing volume of constituent concerns, as well as the detailed review of Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) count reports" on Woodbine Road.
The road has consistently gotten "D" grades from the county's Public Works Department, and is expected to reach a failing "F" grade soon due to the heavy traffic. Residential and commercial developments continue to be regularly approved on Woodbine Road, adding to the traffic burden.
Williamson said he knew it was a long shot to get the state to take over the road when he first made the proposal in November, but felt he had to try anyway.
“When FDOT and the county met together, both parties really showed concerns that maybe a state takeover is not the best thing,” Williamson said. “I knew from the beginning we were shooting for the stars on this, but I’m the type that I’m going to ask for the very, very top, and see if we can get it done because it is a major problem.”
Williamson and Parker said the discussions did bear some fruit, opening up a line of communication with state transportation leaders that hadn't existed previously.
“By us at least making that process happen, the fallback is that FDOT is committed to helping the county find ways to fund that road,” Williamson said.
Parker said he was hopeful the state would help financially, but said most of the funding is going to have to be scraped together in the county coffers at some point.
"All indications are that the vast lion's share of funding for any improvements that would be made in the future will have to come from the local level," he said.
Annie Blanks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.