FORT WALTON BEACH, FL - It's been a month since Hurricane Dennis damaged the Florida Panhandle's only major coastal highway -- U-S 98.
All four lanes between Fort Walton Beach and Destin have been reopened. A lane in each direction was restored only days after Dennis
struck on July tenth, but the other two lanes didn't reopen until now, after almost three million dollars in repairs.
Hurricane Ivan last year and Hurricane Opal in 1995 washed out
the same stretch through a beach area owned by Eglin Air Force Base
on the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island. The storms also flattened
dunes on the narrow barrier island.
State transportation officials say the plan to stabilize it before the next hurricane season, but an effort to restore the dunes is expected to be more complicated and take longer.
The Florida Department of Transportation may install a revetment
that would keep water from washing under the pavement. D-O-T plans
to seek federal money.