PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists can look forward to several improvements to various Panama City roadways, as the Florida Department of Transportation has released details about a $5.5 million Business Highway 98 resurfacing project.
The project includes Beck Avenue through St. Andrews and most of Beach Drive through Downtown Panama City.
It will mean a smoother ride for drivers along a road that is currently full of potholes, cracks and eroded pavement. However, FDOT officials said on Friday that fixing those is only one part of the project.
“It’s something that’s been asked for in this area,” said FDOT Spokesman, Ian Satter. “It’s something that we’re really eager to get started on.”
He said the plan will include resurfacing the existing lanes, and improvements to parking and sidewalks.
“When we talk about transportation, we’re not just talking about cars, we’re talking about bicycles and pedestrians,” he said. “As part of that project we’re going to be enhancing those facilities.”
Along Beck Avenue through 10th Street and Beach Avenue, the updates include improved travel lanes; for some of those roadways there will be added center lanes, as well as street parking and sidewalk improvements on both sides of the road.
In St. Andrews, business owners said they’re looking forward to it.
“I think St. Andrews needs that,” said Jay Pigneri, owner of Copper Tap Grille. “I think they need a little bit of spark, of some newness.”
Some Panama City residents said it’ll be a positive change after Hurricane Michael.
“Having a bike lane here, it would get people out, get people to biking more,” said resident Dale Kleinart.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see them moving forward and bringing life and more people back to the area,” said his wife, Pamela.
Satter said the improvements will help fix some of the flooding issues in these areas as well.
“We’ll also be doing drainage improvements in the area,” he said. “So not only will we have a smoother surface but you’ll also have additional features out here that people will be able to enjoy and we’ll be able to reduce some of those flooding issues we’ve seen in the past.”
He said the project is expected to begin construction in the fall of 2021. They believe it will take about 6 months to complete.
FDOT is continuing to take in public feedback on the project virtually; you can find more information on the proposed designs and how to contribute feedback by clicking here. FDOT officials said public comments will be taken until Monday, November 9th, 2020.