Mid-Bay Bridge in Okaloosa County closed indefinitely

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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - According to Florida Department of Transportation officials, around 22,000 vehicles travel over the Mid-Bay Bridge every day, but for now, those drivers will have to find an alternate route.

Okaloosa County resident Jon Burklow normally travels across the bridge to get to work.

“A 12-mile commute round trip, turned into 60," said Burklow.

Which is quite an inconvenience for Burklow.

“You have to get up earlier, I have a diabetic dog that I have to give insulin to so I have to pre-plan that," said Burklow.

But Florida Department of Transportation officials say closing the bridge for safety reasons is in the public's best interest.

“During a routine inspection we found corrosion on some of the metal tendons that are inside the bridge that kinda give it support, and when we discovered that corrosion, in an abundance of caution, we closed the bridge until we could make repairs to correct that issue with the tendons," said Florida Department of Transportation Spokesperson Ian Satter.

Teams are working on fixing the issue but FDOT officials have no timeline as to when the bridge will be open again.

And while it is inconvenient, some Panhandle residents say the situation could be worse.

“It’s not too bad, but it just makes commutes a lot harder so if you’re trying to get somewhere you need to be at a certain time it kinda slows it down," said Santa Rosa County resident Adrian Key.

“You can be mad about it, or you can just overcome it and I gotta have a job, I gotta eat, so I’m dealing with it," said Burklow.

For Burklow, part of dealing with it means reallocating his expenses.

“Now it’s no toll, it’s just more gas," said Burklow.

Other routes people can use to get around the Bay is Highway 331 in South Walton or drive through Fort Walton Beach.

Satter also mentioned when the bridge is reopened, smaller vehicles like cars, trucks, and vans may be the only vehicles allowed to use it at first.