I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Federal Officials Have Said "NO!" to the Back Exit through the Welcome Center for NFCU Employees

On a conference call today with 15 officials from the Federal Highway Administration, Office of the Secretary of  Transportation, Florida Department of Transportation, Escambia County, Representatives from Congressman Matt Gaetz's office, and Navy Federal Credit Union personnel--Federal Authorities said, emphatically, that the back exit through the Florida Welcome Center is not,  never has been, and never would be considered as a means of easing traffic for Beulah, 9-Mile Road, and NFCU employees.

I appreciated the opportunity to be on this call, and I appreciated the candor expressed by the participants.  I think a lot of confusion is and was created by the "Option 1" of the four OST options floated as potential solutions to NFCU's traffic issues in Beulah.  A lot of the reasoning for the back exit not being allowed was also expressed in the below email I received on the 17th.  Apparently----the back exit out of the visitor's center was never, ever going to be considered no matter what.  I only wonder why, if it was never, ever going to be seriously considered, Navy Federal and the County were made to jump through so many hoops in the hope of having this back exit at the Welcome Center approved?  I mean, why all the work toward this if the real answer always was simply "You can request to build a brand new Interchange adjacent to the welcome center west of exit 5 with a new overpass and brand new collector and distributor lanes on the north and the south of Interstate 10 between the Visitor's Center and Exit 5, complete with brand new east and westbound access to the interstate"  I mean--if that really was what was being presented, that was a non-solution from go.

We are already well on the way to constructing a new Interchange at Beulah Road--everyone knows that and that is the most important project in District 1 right now. ( And the County for that matter).  I think it is for this reason that in these documents the County and NFCU enacted---the solution was never characterized as a brand new "interchange" --the solution was characterized as a brand new  "Access Point."  Be that as it may--if this is indeed the final word, we must now take a step back and re evaluate the remaining options and be very deliberate in our due-diligence going forward.  A knee-jerk rush to a new potential solution for expediency's sake could be very problematic, and therefore I am going to study any new proposal upside down and backward, front to back, head to toe, to ensure it passes the smell test and that it is equitable to all nearby neighbors and developers impacted, and that it makes fiscal sense in light of the taxpayer dollars that are being invested right now with  the 4-lane project on 9-Mile Road and the Beulah Interchange project that is well underway just 2 miles West of this area....

For now, based upon the conference call and the below email--it does indeed appear as if the back exit through the welcome center is dead.

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