The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), Scenic Walton, Visit South Walton, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, and the Florida Department of Transportation invite the public to the official groundbreaking of the U.S. Hwy. 98 pedestrian underpass at Inlet Beach.
The Walton County Board of County Commissioners will present the official groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, March 26, at 3:00 pm CST. Local restaurants Shades Bar & Grill and The Donut Hole will provide refreshments. Attendees should park and gather at Shades at the corner of Scenic Hwy. 30A and U.S. Hwy. 98.
This $5.6 million project will be the first pedestrian and cyclist underpass to be constructed in the county and will be located at the corners of U.S. Highways 98 and Scenic 30A.
Once the underpass is complete, it will provide safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists underneath US Highway 98 through a lighted tunnel. Scenic Walton is partnering with the Cultural Arts Alliance to create a public art component that will be part of the CAA’s Art in Public Spaces program. It will include two mid-sized sculptures installed next to each tunnel entrance and murals created on the tunnel’s interior walls. Lighting will be stylistically installed on the ceiling, and the floor will remain unobstructed for clear and safe passage. The tunnel will measure 12 ft wide x 8 ft high x 136 ft long.
A open national artist invitation will go out in April 2021, with finalists chosen in July and commissions selected in August. Concepts will be reviewed and chosen by a panel of representatives from the creative, public, and private sectors, and the community at large. Two artists/teams will create and install the sculptures, and one artist/team will create the interior murals with collaboration by local students through the CAA’s ongoing partnership with the Walton County School District.
The overall project outcome will be a safe, practical, and necessary crossing that also provides an enhancement to the surrounding area through indigenous landscaping and beautiful, engaging, and thought-provoking artwork. Artistically and conceptually, and in recognition of this underpass being the first in the area, the theme of the art installations will be “connectivity” and “relationship” among and between humans and connection with our built environment through creativity. The artwork will be installed in Spring 2022.
This project will be a continuation of existing or developing public art projects located in the adjacent communities, including the CAA’s Monarch Art Trail along South Watersound Parkway, the Rosemary Beach Sculpture Exhibition, Alys Beach’s permanent sculpture collection, and future public art installations at Watersound Origins. The underpass will be an obvious thoroughfare, but it will also add value to the practical environment and become an experience for those who live, work and vacation in our community.