The initial segment of the first phase of the Mid-Bay Bridge connector (Toll Florida 293) opened to traffic on May 12 from the existing toll plaza at the north end of the Choctawhatchee Bay bridge to Florida 20. The second portion of Phase I will open later this summer and will dump local traffic onto Range Road east of Niceville. The following photos were taken May 13 by AARoads.

Toll Florida 293 north (from U.S. 98 to Florida 20):

Florida 293 commences its ascent northward from U.S. 98 in east Destin. It begins as a six-lane arterial, but quickly loses lanes to become a two lane corridor by the time it reaches the Mid-Bay bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay. This reassurance marker is the only one in the entire northwest region that displays the orange outline of Florida, often seen on other toll facilities in other parts of the state.

Currently, motorists pay a $3.00 toll for the Mid-Bay bridge crossing. The toll plaza is just over 5-miles away along the north shore of Choctawhatchee Bay. The traffic signal in the background allows access to the commercial centers that align either side of Florida 293.

Florida 293 prepares to lose the first lane to the access road along the northern boundary of Destin Commons, the commercial power center that encompasses the land at the northeast corner of the intersection with Florida 293 and U.S. 98. The final lanes merge into one at the entrance to Legendary Marina along the bay.

Becoming a two lane facility, Florida 293 prepares to cross over Choctawhatchee Bay via the 3.6 mile long Mid-Bay bridge. Provisions are in place to build a twin span east of and adjacent to the existing structure as funding permits.

The Mid-Bay bridge crosses over Choctawhatchee Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. The bridge is low-level for the majority of its crossing with the exception of the high-span crossing over the Intracoastal Waterway channel.

Descending from the apex of the bridge span, Florida 293 approaches the northern shores of Choctawhatchee Bay and the outer reaches of Niceville. The toll plaza for the bridge follows immediately after the Mid-Bay bridge.

As part of the construction of the first phase of the Mid-Bay Connector, an approach to the east of the existing bridge was constructed for the future expansion of the Mid-Bay bridge. Once a twin span is in place, the existing bridge will carry southbound traffic while the new span will carry northbound traffic.

The existing toll plaza was also expanded during the construction of the initial phase of the Mid-Bay Connector. Two additional lanes were added to the east of the existing toll plaza to accommodate future traffic volumes, and facilitate northbound traffic. All lanes except SunPass while the left-most lane is strictly for SunPass users.

Barricades currently block access to the old alignment of Florida 293 along White Point Road. Prior to the opening of the first phase, traffic turned northwest following White Point Road up to Florida 20 near the Bluewater Bay development. Plans are in place to permanently cut off access of White Point Road to Florida 293 in the near future and for the state to relinquish control back to the county for road maintenance.

Now along the recently opened alignment, Florida 293 makes its way northward toward its new temporary terminus at Florida 20 about 1.5 miles ahead. The current speed limit north of the toll plaza to Florida 20 is posted at 45 mph. Curbing lines both sides of the roadway until the first interchange with Lakeshore Drive. Also note the use of a non-toll reassurance marker for the new alignment of Florida 293.

Approaching the first interchange at Lakeshore Drive.

This diamond interchange was constructed for motorist wishing to gain access to White Point Road and the nearby subdivisions lying to the west of the new limited access highway. Heading south along Lakeshore Drive takes you to a small subdivision along the northern shores of Pippin Lake.

Due to the proximity of the interchanges, Florida 293 briefly gains an auxiliary lane to accommodate future traffic. Barricades are currently in place to move motorists into one lane as the temporary terminus with Florida 20 is fast approaching.

All traffic must exit onto the off ramp for the SPUI with Florida 20. No permanent signage was in place at the time of opening so vertical message boards are being used to guide motorists at the interchanges until signage can be placed.

The remaining segment of Phase I will open Florida 293 up to Range Road later this summer. It is not currently known whether the new toll facility will have exit numbers at its interchanges or not.

Approaching the intersection with Florida 20 near the end of the off ramp for Florida 293. Trailblazers have been erected to alert motorists on which direction Interstate 10 can be reached.

From this particular intersection, motorists can access the interstate either by heading west into Niceville and taking either Florida 285 or Florida 85. Heading east on Florida 20 will take motorists to Freeport where motorists can take U.S. 331 north to reach the interstate near Defuniak Springs. Also note the use of state-named shields for Interstate 10, a rarity in the state.

Florida 293 south (between Florida 20 and Lakeshore Drive):

Heading southward from the SPUI with Florida 20, Florida 293 quickly approaches its final interchange before encountering the toll plaza for the Mid-Bay bridge.

Motorists not wishing to pay the $3.00 toll to cross the Mid-Bay bridge exit here at the diamond interchange with Lakeshore Drive. This local road connects the newly opened limited access highway with White Point Road, the former alignment of Florida 293.

Florida 293 scenes:

A trailblazer directing motorists onto Toll Florida 293 south (though at time taken the arrow was not in place). Note the use of a black on white TOLL banner in place of using the new standard of black on yellow, or for that matter, Florida’s standard toll shield.

Signage previously used for the intersection with White Point Road (now former Florida 293) has been moved to the new SPUI. It is not currently known if this signage is going to be temporary or if this is indeed permanent.