Environment Escambia County News

The Beach’s Other Bridge

February 9, 2012

It’d been a long night down at the Santa Rosa Island Authority meeting. The packed-house gallery had said their piece and board members had tossed motion after motion onto a merciless table.

SRIA Vice Chairman Vernon Prather threw one more motion before the board in attempt to score a consensus on Plan B, which calls for a $25 million overpass to be constructed on Via de Luna and Fort Pickens Rd. as part of the beach’s core area improvements.

“Let’s run it up the flag pole and see who salutes,” said Chairman Dave Pavlock.
The board passed the motion—essentially passing Plan B with serveral caveats—five to one. Finally. And it hadn’t come easy.

At the end of the night the only holdout—and the board’s only elected member—was Thomas Campanella. He remained unconvinced that the beach needed to construct a vehicular bridge above the core area’s intersection to better allow the flow of pedestrians across the streets.

“Is it in the public interest?” Campanella had asked earlier. “It connects a public beach to private enterprise.”

The meeting attracted a full crowd, with people spilling into the SRIA’s lobby. While people who had been involved in the planning process spoke in favor of the plan, many in attendance were not so keen.

The board ended up approving Plan B, asking that the Esambia County Commission keep them fully in the loop throughout the planning process.

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