UPDATE: J. Earle Bowden Way, Highway 399, Temporarily Reopens
GULF BREEZE, Fla. – Gulf Islands National Seashore officials will reopen the J. Earle Bowden Way, Highway 399 at 8 a.m. tomorrow to passenger vehicles. Opal Beach day use loop D pavilions, restrooms and parking lot will also reopen. Temporary repairs to the road are sufficiently complete to safely reopen the road until the project to implement permanent repairs gets underway later this year.
The temporary repairs will establish two drive lanes that meet minimum Federal Highway Administration standards accompanied by safety precautions. Due to damages associated with Hurricane Sally, these temporary repairs will only support safe transport of passenger vehicles. Therefore, the road will be available to emergency vehicles and passenger vehicles only. Commercial vehicles and oversized vehicles, including RV's, trailers of any kind, buses and delivery trucks will not be able to use the road until permeant repairs are completed to prevent further damage and allow for the safe passage of smaller vehicles.
The posted speed limit will be 25 mph except where speed bumps are present, when it is reduced to 15 mph. There are several stretches of road that will require bicyclists to share the driving lanes with passenger vehicles. Additional changes visitors may expect with completed temporary repairs, include:
- Multiple lane shifts
- Absent bike lanes in some areas
- Road reflectors/lane dividers
- Cones marking dips in asphalt
- Additional safety signs
- Reduced speeds in lane shift areas
- Speed Bumps
The safety of residents and visitors is our top priority and we encourage travelers to exercise patience and caution along narrowed lanes.
The Federal Highway Administration is leading the effort to complete the permanent repairs of bicycle lanes and travel lanes along 399, Fort Pickens Road, Opal Beach parking area, and Johnson Beach Road. The permeant repairs are estimated to be completed in late 2021.
Hurricane Sally damage assessments and project planning for J. Earle Bowden Way, Highway 399 occurred on Sept. 24, 2020. In the months following Hurricane Sally, several weather events caused pavement failures due to additional slumping and settling along the highway. The increased damages resulted in the need for additional supplies and extended road closures.
The Fort Barrancas Area remains closed due to Naval Air Station Pensacola closure. Fort Pickens road, area and campground reopened December 5, 2020. Opal Beach day use loops A, B, C, E and F will remain closed due to damage associated with Hurricane Sally.
Current closure information: www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/tempclosures.htm.