Coastal Scientists Want Alternatives to Road Rebuilding

A group of coastal scientists are urging the National Park Service to consider alternatives to a costly repair of Fort Pickens Road in Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Sections of both Fort Pickens Road and J. Earle Bowden Way, which connects Navarre and Pensacola beaches, were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, rebuilt and washed out again during Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Many residents would like to see the roads repaired.

But in a letter to National Park Service Director Mary A. Bowman, the 17 scientists expressed concerns about rebuilding Fort Pickens Road in what they said has been identified in a U.S. Geological Survey as “among the most vulnerable, highest hazard shorelines” in the nation.

The coastal scientists from universities, including Duke, Florida State and the University of Hawaii, favor a ferry to Fort Pickens or some other shuttle system.

The scientists are concerned about one proposal to use manmade structures to protect about two miles of Fort Pickens Road because the possible effects on natural barrier islands.