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Feds to hear report on I-65 connector

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
BProponents of a Florida to Alabama hurricane evacuation route and I-65 connector are going to Washington, D.C., next week, hoping to secure federal funds for the project.
Prior to that trip, members of the Florida Alabama Coalition on Transportation (FACT) will meet in Milton Monday to review information that will be presented to federal officials. The meeting was announced by Florida State Rep. Jeff Miller, who was instrumental in forming the task force following a summit in Pensacola March 1.
The "which piece can be built first" has been the subject of numerous meetings as three factions in the county have vied for priority positions.
The option of greatest interest on this end of the county is the route taking Highway 29 out of Pensacola to 97 in Molino to Highway 21 in Atmore and to the interstate. Highways 29 and 21 are already four lanes. This route would be most cost effective for Alabama.
Another option is Highway 29 to Highway 113 in Flomaton to the interstate. Preliminary studies released by Escambia County (Fla.) Commissioner Tom Banjanin indicate that Highway 113 is by far the least expensive of the three routes for Florida.
The third option is to four-lane the existing roadways from Highway 98 in Navarre north to I-65. This would include four-laning highways 87 south and 87 north in Santa Rosa County, Highway 41 to Brewton and Highway 31 from Brewton to the interstate.
Studies show this to be the most costly option.
The FACT meeting will be held Monday, June 26, 2 p.m., in the commission chambers at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex, 6495 Caroline St. (Highway 90) in Milton.
Members of the evacuation route task force will go to Washington, D.C., June 29 and 30, along with representatives of the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce and TEAM Santa Rosa to present information to transportation experts.