Underpass Construction Update: Fall 2021
Crews are making steady progress on the $5.6 million Inlet Beach underpass project, which is moving swiftly toward its projected completion date of May 2022. Construction is currently underway on the foundation for the northernmost retaining wall, which will provide earth retention and stability for the new ramps connecting U.S. 98 to the entrance of the pedestrian tunnel.
Community Cheers Underpass Groundbreaking
Thank you to everyone who celebrated the groundbreaking of the $5.6 million Inlet Beach Underpass with us on March 26, outside of Shades Restaurant and Bar. It was a beautiful day, and Leigh Moore, executive director of Scenic Walton, was proudly joined on stage by local and state officials.
The ceremony kicked off with a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner performed by singer Sarah Davidson, followed by a brief synopsis of the project by Moore.
Approximately 100 people attended the groundbreaking and viewed maps, renderings, and videos of the underpass.
“It was a momentous day for Walton County,” Moore said. “We have worked tirelessly at Scenic Walton for the construction of a pedestrian underpass because we know it will save lives. It’s exciting to see construction begin.”
Senator Gainer, former Walton County Commissioner Bill Chapman, Commissioner Boots McCormick, and John Freer, owner of Shades Restaurant and Bar, all spoke briefly about how locals and visitors will benefit from the underpass.
“I am so glad to see this today,” Sen. Gainer told the crowd. “I’m glad to see this is a result of everyone in Walton County working together. You should be very proud of all the leaders up here. I appreciate that I got to be a small part of it. If we don’t save but one life, it’s going to be worth everything we’ve all done.”
In keeping with the scenic appeal of 30A, a National Scenic Byway, the Cultural Arts Alliance is partnering with Scenic Walton to create a public art component for the underpass.
As part of CAA’s Art in Public Spaces program, sculptures and murals will transform the underpass into a unique entry to 30A.
Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA, said the theme of the art installations would be connectivity and relationship among and between humans and our connection with the built environment through creativity.
The Art in Public Spaces program currently supports the sculpture trail in Rosemary Beach, the sculpture collection in Alys Beach, and the new Monarch Art Trail along S. Watersound Parkway.
Two artists or teams will create and install the sculptures. One artist or team will paint the interior murals in collaboration with local students through the CAA’s ongoing partnership with the Walton County School District in the Spring of 2022.
The FDOT will also:
- Improve drainage in the area,
- Add a new US 98 Eastbound right turn lane onto 30A,
- Enhance pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks,
- Add lighted access points,
- Landscape the surrounding area,
- Construct both stair and ADA compliant ramps for underpass access.
Any lane closures will be limited to the hours between 8:30 p.m. – 5:30 a.m. The FDOT has created a website and Facebook page for underpass construction updates.