We’re closer to a shorter commute time in and around Eglin Air Force Base – or at least Eglin Air Force Base and Okaloosa County leadership hope that’s the result of a “Westside Expansion Plan” survey which the County Approved at their Tuesday meeting.
In 2020, officers and leaders on base and the County agreed that something needs to be done about the high volume of traffic that crawls in front of the base’s west gate daily during the work week. They say the outdated and inefficient base infrastructure has begun to become a risk for the base’s lethality and the well-being of the personnel who work there. “The noble legacy of EAFB (Eglin Air Force Base) has grown since before WWII through the Cold War,” the memorandum flourishes, “The Air Force’s largest installation continues operations today in some of the same facilities and infrastructure from that era, most are well beyond their service life.” The memo adds, “We must strategically align installation plans with mission requirements by leveraging new technologies, innovative funding models, intelligent procurement methods and new authorities.”
In order to fix these problems, The County will spend about $156,000 to create a plan which will design three different plans for a new west gate entrance for the World’s Largest Air Force Base™. The expansion and remodel could require the “realignment of State Route 85 and State Route 189” [read: road construction] to expand the main base area nearest Shalimar. The memorandum the commission signed in 2020 noted that this area of the county suffers from “inefficient transportation networks in and around the installation,” and the base “must strategically align installation plans with mission requirements.”
The contractor, base and government plan to speak with stakeholders from inside and outside Eglin, Including security forces, the cultural resources office, the natural resources office, the real property office, the Eglin Civil Engineering Squadron, emergency services on base, the safety department and the command group. The needs of the county’s residents, FDOT, the VA Clinic, the Armament Museum and the University of Florida REEF facility will also get taken into consideration.
After the contractor, HDR engineering, creates and presents its plans, The County and Eglin leadership will reconvene in order to discuss next steps.
Long story short, changes are a comin’ to Eglin.
Hopefully, shorter commute times will arrive shortly thereafter.
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