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Florida 293 - Mid-Bay Bridge / Mid-Bay Bridge Connector

Florida 293 crosses Choctawhatchee Bay along the 3.6-mile Mid-Bay Bridge between Niceville and Destin in southern Okaloosa County. The state route was designated on the bridge and its connector roadways north to Florida 20 and south to U.S. 98 when the $86-million span opened in June 1993. The toll bridge is operated by the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority, which was created by state Legislature in 1986. Work on the bridge commenced in 1992.1

This sign advertised a spring 2014 opening date of the Mid-bay Connector at the now trumpet interchange between Florida 85 and Florida 293. Long range planning calls for the Niceville bypass to continue southwesterly as part of a toll road to Florida 87 near Holley. Photo taken January 25, 2013.

Tolls were initially set at $2.00 per passenger vehicle in 1993. Those increased to $2.50 per passenger car in 2004 and $3.00 in 2010. As of 2013, the Bridge Authority still had $260-million in bonds to pay off.1 Revenues from tolls collected are also paying for the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector, a limited-access expressway bypassing Niceville between Florida 85 and the bridge. The first segment of that roadway opened in May 12, 2011, realigning the route away from White Point Road to a single point urban interchange (SPUI) with Florida 20. A short extension followed by September 16, 2011 to a diamond interchange with Range Road on the Eglin Air Force Base border.

Work to complete the roadway northwest to SR 85, including an interchange at SR 285 and a toll collection point north of Range Road, was expected in early 2014.1 Completion projects moved faster than anticipated expediting the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector opening to January 4, 2014. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and 5K run preceded the opening.2

Construction of the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector broke ground in 2009. The $140-million project extended the limited access routing of SR 293 to 16 miles. Tolls on the Niceville bypass portion range from $1.00 per passenger vehicles with a SunPass account and $1.50 for cash transactions.3

Florida 293 north
The first shield assembly for Florida 293 Toll lies between U.S. 98 and Commons Boulevard. The state road carries six overall lanes by Destin Commons shopping center. Photo taken 06/20/09.
A toll schedule sign precedes Commons Boulevard for the Mid-Bay Bridge. Tolls were last increased to $3.00 per passenger vehicle on June 1, 2010. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Florida 293 sheds two lanes north of Commons Boulevard. The right-hand lane turns into Destin Commons while the middle lane ends just ahead of the Mid-Bay Bridge. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Just north of the intersection with Regatta Bay Boulevard, Florida 293 north reaches the Mid-Bay Bridge. Photo taken 05/13/11.
The Mid-Bay Bridge swings northward from Moreno Point across southern reaches of Choctawhatchee Bay. Photos taken 05/13/11.
Crossing Choctawhatchee Bay and the Intracoastal Water, the Mid-Bay Bridge totals 19,008 feet in length and crests at 65 feet above the navigation channel. Photos taken 05/13/11.
The mainline toll plaza for the Mid-Bay Bridge is just north of the Choctawhatchee shoreline. Photo taken 05/13/11.

An eight-lane toll plaza includes one dedicated Sunpass lane per direction and three cash lanes. Photos taken 05/13/11.
Beyond the toll plaza is a Florida 293 reassurance marker. Photo taken 05/13/11.
The off-ramp for Lakeshore Drive departs soon there after for Pippin Lake and White Point Road (former SR 293). Photo taken 05/13/11.
The close proximity of the Lakeshore Drive diamond interchange and single point urban interchange (SPUI) with Florida 20 sees a separate guide sign for SR 20 posted along the northbound on-ramp from Lakeshore Drive. Photo taken 09/16/11.
A standard Florida 293 marker resides between Lakeshore Drive and SR 20 as this stretch of the Mid-Bay Connector is untolled. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 293 northbound at the Florida 20 off-ramp. Florida 20 connects Niceville with Portland and Freeport in neighboring Walton County. The state road provides a long distance route to Tallahassee via Ebro, Blountstown and Bristol. Photo taken 09/16/11.
A pair of trailblazers for Interstate 10 accompany the Florida 20 shields on the northbound off-ramp from SR 293. Florida 20 east to U.S. 331 north connects with I-10 at De Funiak Springs while SR 20 west to SR 85 north leads motorists to I-10 at Crestview. Photo taken 09/16/11.
An end shield for Florida 293 lies midway between the Florida 20 on-ramp and diamond interchange with Range Road. The Mid-Bay Connector will continue north from Range Road to a toll collection point as a super-two expressway when it opens sometime in 2014. Photo taken 09/16/11.
A small guide sign lists the distance to Range Road as Florida 293 nears its temporary north end. A single bridge was erected above Range Road by 2013 as the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector will carry just two lanes west to Florida 85. Photo taken 09/16/11.
The ramp for Range Road was devoid of any signs when it opened to traffic in September 2011. The road serves local interests west into a residential area and east onto Eglin A.F.B. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 293 south
Florida 293 South leaves the Range Road diamond interchange and curves southwestward to the single point urban interchange (SPUI) with Florida 20. Florida 20 joins Niceville with Freeport along the northern periphery of Choctawhatchee Bay. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 20 ventures west as the main east-west arterial of Niceville. The state road was expanded to four lanes from White Point Road (former SR 293) eastward to the Walton County line in 2011. SR 20 lines the east side of Bluewater Bay, a golf course community beyond White Point Road. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Southbound at the off-ramp for Florida 20 on Florida 293 south. Florida 20 ends at Florida 85, 6.6 miles to the west in Niceville. Eastward the route heads to Tallahassee as an independent route before joining U.S. 27 south as its hidden counterpart to High Springs. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Continuing toward the Mid-Bay Bridge, Florida 293 approaches the diamond interchange with Lakeshore Drive. Photo taken 09/16/11.
The portion of Florida 293 between Range Road and Lakeshore Drive is toll free. Lakeshore Drive is a local road connecting the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector with White Point Road to the west and Pippin Lake to the east. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 293 turns southward from Lakeshore Drive and enters the Mid-Bay Bridge toll plaza in one mile. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Southbound Florida 293 at the Lakeshore Drive off-ramp. Lakeshore Drive provides access to former SR 293 along White Point Road. White Point Road originally led directly to the Mid-Bay Bridge, but that connection was severed with the May 12, 2011 opening of the Connector north to SR 20. Photo taken 09/16/11.
White Point Road south from Lakeshore Drive serves the Mid-Bay Bridge Administration Building, located just west of the toll plaza and Maxwell-Gunter Recreation Area of Elgin Air Force Base. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Entering the Mid-Bay Bridge main line toll plaza. Passenger vehicles are charged $3.00 to cross the bridge as of July 1, 2010. Photo taken 02/13/10.
A stub just south of the toll plaza will accommodate a future twin span of the bridge, which may be built by 2025. Photo taken 02/13/10.
The Mid-Bay Bridge curves southwestward after leaving the north shore of Choctawhatchee Bay east of White Point. Photos taken 02/13/10.
Looking west at the expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay toward Shalimar and Fort Walton Beach. Photo taken 02/13/10.
The navigation crest rises to a height of 65 feet above the Intracoastal Waterway of Choctawhatchee Bay. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Another curve awaits southbound motorists as Florida 293 leaves the Mid-Bay Bridge just east of Piney Point for Destin. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Just south of the bridge end is the turn for Regatta Bay Bridge and a school zone for Destin Middle School. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Florida 293 expands into a four-lane divided arterial through to Destin Commons and junction U.S. 98 at Hutchinson Street. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Commons Boulevard links SR 293 with Destin Commons to the east. The boulevard constitutes a service road to the west, serving numerous retail business north of U.S. 98. Photo taken 02/13/10.
U.S. 98 provides the main route from Destin west to Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach and east to Sandestin and Panama City Beach. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Henderson Beach State Park resides just south of U.S. 98 to the west. Photo taken 02/13/10.
U.S. 98 comprises a busy commercial arterial in either direction from the end of Florida 293. Hutchinson Street spurs south from the SR 293 end to Scenic 98 (County Road 2378), the former coastal alignment of U.S. 98. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Scenes pertaining to Florida 293
Lakeshore Drive eastbound at the northbound ramp for the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector. Photo taken 09/16/11.
A standard Florida 293 shield assembly directs motorists onto the Mid-Bay Bridge south from Lakeshore Drive east. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Range Road leaves a residential area of Niceville to meet the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector at the boundary of Elgin Air Force Base. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 293 was extended by about a half mile from Florida 20 to Range Road by September of 2011. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Range Road enters Eglin A.F.B. property immediately east of Florida 293. The road is restricted at this point. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Exiting the grounds of Eglin A.F.B., Range Road meets Florida 293 at a diamond interchange. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Florida 293 curves southwestward from the Range Road off-ramp to Florida 20, Lakeshore Drive and the Mid-Bay Bridge to Destin. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Earthwork at the turn of Forest Road north onto College Boulevard west. An at-grade intersection will see Forest Road end at the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector. Photo taken 09/16/11.
Former Florida 293 (White Point Road) north
A set of flashers hang above the intersection of White Point Road and Woodlands Drive. Woodlands Drive connects the former state road with Bluewater Bay to the west. Photo taken 05/13/11.
North of Woodlands Boulevard, White Point Road approaches junction Florida 20. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Interstate 10 trailblazers directed motorists onto SR 20 west for I-10 west via Crestview and SR 20 east to I-10 east via DeFuniak Springs. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Florida 20 constitutes a busy arterial from the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector westward to its end at Florida 85 in central Niceville. Numerous traffic lights line this stretch, which is why the Connector is being constructed for through travelers. Photo taken 05/13/11.
Former Florida 293 (White Point Road) south
A toll schedule sign was posted for the Mid-Bay Bridge just south of the Whit Point Road beginning from Florida 20. Note that the toll rate was still $2.50 per passenger vehicle. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Whitepoint Road carried just two lanes south from SR 20 to the Mid-Bay Bridge. This view looks at the flasher at Woodlands Drive, which added local traffic to the former state road. Photo taken 02/13/10.
A toll plaza sign advised motorists along White Point Road south just after Woodlands Drive. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Olde Post road was the second to last turn-off available along White Point Road before SR 293 defaulted into the toll plaza. Photo taken 02/13/10.
Beyond the access road for Maxwell-Gunter Recreation Area, White Point Road curved toward the toll plaza. The road now ends at a cul-de-sac. Photo taken 02/13/10.
The former connection of White Point Road to the Mid-Bay Bridge. Drivers were notified that passing is not allowed on the two-lane span. Photo taken 02/13/10.

Sources:

  1. "Mid-Bay Bridge a vital transportation link despite controversies." Northwest Florida Daily News, June 25, 2013.
  2. "Mid-Bay Bridge Connector to open in coming months." Northwest Florida Daily News, September 19, 2013.
  3. "Mid-Bay Bridge Connector to be unveiled after four years of work." Northwest Florida Daily News, January 3, 2014.
Photo Credits:
2009-06-20, 2010-02-13, 2011-05-13, 2011-09-16 by AARoads

Connect with:
U.S. Highway 98

Page Updated 01-04-2014.

 
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