September 28, 2023

Panhandle Bridge Transfer Backed

A proposal that would move Northwest Florida’s Garcon Point Bridge into the state turnpike system is moving forward in both legislative chambers.

The House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee unanimously backed the move Wednesday as part of a broad Department of Transportation bill (HB 1305), sponsored by Rep. Shane Abbott, R-DeFuniak Springs.

The Santa Rosa County bridge was the subject of a long-running legal fight between bondholders and the state because the bridge did not generate enough toll revenue.

The Department of Transportation last year agreed to pay $134 million to take control of the bridge and to end the litigation.

The Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority, which was created by the Legislature in 1992, issued bonds in 1996 to build the bridge over part of Pensacola Bay.

The lack of toll revenue to fully pay bondholders was complicated by the fact that the authority effectively became defunct in 2014.

The Senate Transportation Committee last week approved a similar transportation package (SB 1250).

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