HOLMES AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES – A vital component of the 79 Corridor Project is anticipated to be in place by the end of 2021.

Members of the 79 Corridor Authority report that efforts to bring water and sewer service from the city of Bonifay, through Holmes County and into Washington County are now about 40% complete and should be in place by the end of 2021.

“Heavy rain events have somewhat slowed the process, but it’s moving forward, and they’re making good progress now,” said Roger Brooks, who serves as the City of Bonifay’s representative on the Authority board. “It’s nearing the point where there can be some detail items addressed such as lift stations and manholes.”

First proposed through the Washington County Economic Development Council (EDC) in June 2015 — and believed to be the first of its kind in Florida — the 79 Corridor Project is an interlocal agreement among the city of Bonifay and both the Washington and Holmes County Boards of County Commissioners to bring economic growth to the area. Overall, the 79 Corridor covers about 1,525 acres.

Once complete, the project is expected to expand commercial opportunities from the established commercial corridor on State 79 south from Interstate 10 to Douglas Ferry Road.

Tray Hawkins serves as Washington County’s representation on the Authority and agrees the pipework is gaining momentum and setting the stage for the important task of serving new businesses.

“We are trying to put all the parts together and in place so that as soon as the water is turned on, we can get clients hooked up,” said Hawkins. “We have had numerous conversations with development groups, and there is definitely a lot of buzz in those circles about this project. There’s great interest in the 79 Corridor for future development.

Ted Everett, Executive Director of Washington County Economic Development Council, states once the infrastructure is in place, it could take another two years before new businesses begin to locate along the corridor.”

“The next couple years is when we’ll start seeing major development and increased traffic count from all points,” said Everett. “79 will attract that development because it acts like the end of a funnel; traffic may be going east or west, but in this area, they’re all going to use 79 at some point to get where they’re going.”

This article originally appeared on Washington County News: 79 Corridor Project nears milestone