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Don Gaetz: State to Pay for New Bridge across Pensacola Bay, Port Upgrades

February 2, 2013 - 6:00pm

Its a little premature to speculate on the name "Don Gaetz" being affixed to a bridge.

But a couple of years down the road, upon completion, a new one to rise across Pensacola Bay could be a candidate for such a dedication

While Gov. Rick Scott was releasing an economically optimistic budget on Thursday, Senate President Gaetz, R-Niceville, was traveling the western end of the Panhandle announcing nearly $1 billion in state-backed transportation projects, including $595.6 million for a new, toll-free bridge across Pensacola Bay.

The state of Florida is convinced the road to the economic future of our state runs right through here, Gaetz told reporters Thursday during a series of public announcements on transportation projects.

The $974 million in transit work includes about $2 million -- $1 million from the state with a local matching grant -- to replace dockside railroad tracks at the Port of Pensacola, $50.8 million to add two lanes to U.S. 29 from Interstate 10 to Nine Mile Road in Escambia County and $23.9 million for two new lanes along State Road 87 between Eglin Air Force Base to south of the Yellow River Bridge in Santa Rosa County.

The projects, which for the new Three Mile Bridge and State Road 87 work will require environmental permitting and could take two years before work is begun, were advanced in the states five-year road plan, Gaetz said.

The Department of Transportation has committed to me and committed to our delegation and is prepared to commit publicly today that they will begin construction within two years, Gaetz said while in Pensacola.

They have to acquire some right of way; of course well be working with local governments on both sides of the bay to make sure we have the proper cooperation, but we plan to start dirt flying within two years. Were going to build that bridge so people can get to work.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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