The subject Interchange Justification Report (IJR) documents the request for a new interchange with Interstate 10 (I-10) that establishes a second access serving the urban area of Crestview, Florida. Located in Okaloosa County approximately 50 miles east of Pensacola, the City of Crestview is a growing urban area oriented along the I-10 corridor and bisected by State Road (SR) 85. With daily traffic volumes approaching twice the levels served by I-10, the SR 85 interchange serves as a major regional gateway connection to the interstate from points both north and south of Crestview. This includes travel across the Alabama State line from the north and higher-volume regional traffic flows to and from Eglin Air Force Base, and the coastal communities of Destin and Fort Walton Beach to the south. As illustrated in Figure 1, the proposed interchange is located just east of the existing County Road (CR) 4 (Antioch Road) overpass of I-10, approximately 2.6 miles west of the existing interchange with SR 85. This project is being developed concurrently with a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study identified as ETDM Project #14237 – State Road 8 (I-10) at CR 4 (Antioch Road) Interchange.
The need for this project centers around improving regional mobility through increased access to the interstate and enhancing the overall connectivity of the surrounding transportation network. The proposed new interchange is an important component of the planned extension of PJ Adams Parkway that will establish a westerly bypass around Crestview. This high-priority project was conceived to provide a critically-needed alternative to the heavily-traveled SR 85 corridor to better facilitate north-south travel and relieve congestion along SR 85 that negatively impacts the existing interchange area. Development of a new interchange with I-10 in conjunction with the planned bypass is a critical element of the proposed program. Establishing this second access to I-10 within Crestview is anticipated to reduce traffic congestion and improve both operations and safety.
The PJ Adams Parkway Extension is already being advanced in segments with widening from two to four lanes between SR 85 and Wild Horse Drive slated to begin construction in 2018. The proposed interchange and segment south of I-10 to Wild Horse Drive will also be advanced in the near term to provide continuity with the remainder of the planned future extension of PJ Adams Parkway along the new alignment up to US 90 at Old Bethel Road. In May of 2018 at the urging of local and regional partners, the Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) allocated funding in the current work program to initiate design of the proposed interchange in the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Initiation of the design phase will advance concurrently with the ongoing PD&E study to develop 60% plans with a goal of supporting a future design build procurement process. With the required agency approvals, construction of the proposed interchange could begin as soon as late 2021 if the appropriate funding can be allocated. Completion of the PD&E study and development of detailed design plans will provide the additional specificity needed on project costs. Funding for a right-of-way acquisition phase was also advanced to FY 2020 to allow for an acquisition process to advance in succession with the completion of 60% design plans.
If the requested interchange is not approved for advancement, the existing SR 85 interchange will continue to serve as the only access to I-10 within the region. Without a new interchange, the efficiency of the proposed westerly bypass would be diminished by eliminating its ability to serve as an alternative to SR 85 for interstate traffic. Future traffic conditions without the proposed interchange will increase travel demand pressures on the SR 85 interchange. This results in decreased operational efficiency and a corresponding increase in crash potential at the current interchange that can be attributed to continued congestion.
Purpose and Need
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The purpose of this project is to improve regional mobility and increase local accessibility to the transportation network by providing a new interchange with I-10 that supports the planned PJ Adams Parkway Extension, a westerly bypass around Crestview. A new interchange is needed to better-facilitate regional travel by providing an alternative to the heavily-traveled SR 85 corridor. Running between the Alabama state line to the north, and Fort Walton Beach to the south, SR 85 carries nearly twice the total daily traffic of I-10 and provides critical access to and from Eglin Air Force Base and the surrounding beach communities. At present, the interchange between I-10 and SR 85 is the only service interchange for the Crestview urban area. The alternate access to I-10 from the proposed new interchange provides improved regional network connectivity and holds potential to improve both safety and operations within the adjacent network. The need for the project is reinforced by the factors detailed within this section.