Keaton Beach Coastal Park and CR 361 Trail - FDOT District 2

  • Tyler Strickland

    Tyler Strickland P.E., J.D.

    State Transportation Leader - Florida Contact

A small rural county in the Big Bend area of North Florida, Taylor County is heavily reliant on the tourist industry associated with boating, sportfishing, scalloping and ecotourism. The County worked with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to identify opportunities to revitalize the region through improvement projects that would benefit community members, visitors and local businesses. FDOT selected GS&P to design an extension to Keaton Beach Coastal Park along with a multiuse trail on County Road 361 to further those goals.

Prior to the project, Keaton Beach Coastal Park consisted of a boat launch, two parking lots and a restroom area. The planned recreational improvements included an access loop, a restroom facility, a parking area, bike racks, picnic pavilions, a butterfly garden and a concrete sidewalk. As there was no safe pedestrian access to the park, GS&P’s goal was to design a shared-use path that would connect the local community and accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists along CR 361 within the existing 100-foot right-of-way. The team collaborated with FDOT and Taylor County to find the best design solutions at the most reasonable cost while minimizing impacts to environmentally sensitive local habitats, including nearby salt marshes, wetlands and an Essential Fish Habitat. To protect and enhance the natural habitat, the team provided a low-impact design and multiple options for mitigation that included on-site salt marsh creation, and purchasing credits from salt marsh and wetland mitigation banks outside of the local watershed.

Compiling the specifications package for the project proved to be a significant challenge for the design team and entailed far more than the usual procedures for a roadway project typically undertaken by FDOT. Technical Special Provisions were required for the park’s restroom facility, picnic pavilions, water line relocation, pervious pavers and pressure grouting. As transportation projects rarely involve architectural features, the team solicited four other GS&P markets to assist with writing the specifications as well as converting them into FDOT’s approved format. This in-house, multidisciplinary coordination effort played a key role in synchronizing the design of the various architectural elements, and also resulted in FDOT using GS&P’s architectural specifications package as a model for future projects of this type.

Another considerable design challenge occurred during construction when an underground spring was discovered in the proposed location of one of the box culvert footers. To avoid disturbing the spring, the team quickly redesigned the box culvert, moving it 3 feet to maintain the water’s natural flow.

Serving the multimodal and recreational needs of Taylor County, Keaton Beach Coastal Park and its connecting CR 361 trail provide the public with a beautiful recreational facility that not only boosts the local ecotourism and fishing industries, but also enhances the quality of life for the local community. Taylor County anticipates an increase in the number of visitors to the small coastal community as a result of increased recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and fishing.


GS&P project leaders discuss how the new-and-improved Keaton Beach Coastal Park and connecting multi-use trail are boosting ecotourism, recreational opportunities and quality-of-life in Florida’s Taylor County.

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