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Photo of hurricane damage to Fort Pickens Road. Storm activity completely breached the road from Gulf to soundside.

Hwy 399 and Ft. Pickens Road Feasibility Study

Gulf Islands National Seashore » Hwy 399 and Ft. Pickens Road Feasibility Study » Document List

The National Park Service (NPS) Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) is currently undertaking a roadway resiliency study for J. Earle Bowden Way (Highway 399/Route 11) and Fort Pickens Road (Route 12) (Project). Portions of these roadways sustain repeated storm damage and prolonged flooding after storm events. Our intent is to evaluate and ultimately implement design changes that help maintain vehicular access while reducing road damage and resource impacts from storm events and making roadways more resilient.

Hurricanes and tropical storms are important drivers of natural processes; however, the dune fields within the project area have been significantly reduced in size to only a few feet above sea level due to repeated storm events. This has reduced vehicular access from minor storms and routine weather events pushing Gulf waters and sand across the barrier islands resulting in extensive amounts of sand and rainwater ponding on the roadway surface requiring road closures for public access. Often, minor storms result in road closures on J. Earle Bowden Way and/or Fort Pickens Road at least six times per year with durations from a few hours to a few days. The resulting needed repairs often take several months to complete.

The NPS has contracted a design team to identify and evaluate potential options for these roadways and prepare an environmental assessment of feasible alternatives. The team is conducting a road feasibility/engineering study to determine if adjustments to problem areas on these roadways are possible (e.g., changing the roadbed, relocating roadway segments, change construction techniques, etc.) and develop site-specific alternatives that improve the sustainability, resilience, and maintenance of pavement surfaces of those sites. As part of a project milestone the NPS and the design team have completed a value analysis (VA) that includes improvement recommendations to J. Earle Bowden Way and Fort Pickens Roads.

The NPS has not initiated formal planning, identified a preferred direction, or pursued funding to implement any design options at this time and is soliciting input on the current design options.