PANAMA CITY BEACH - The Beach hopes to streamline an upcoming state project by working with the Florida Department of Transportation.
The Panama City Beach City Council on Thursday voted to pay FDOT more than $12 million to oversee a project to relocate utilities along Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) from Nautilus Street to Richard Jackson Boulevard.
The work will make way for FDOT's upcoming expansion of PCB Parkway from four to six lanes.
"That's where all of our main transmission lines (are), and everything that comes into the wastewater treatment plant," Councilman Phil Chester said. "The reason we really had to do the agreement with FDOT (for the utilities) is since (the road's expansion) is an FDOT project, we didn't want to slow down, hinder or roadblock ... the progress of them building the roads."
Chester said the FDOT will use the approximately $12 million from the Beach to hire the contractors needed to relocate utilities in the area, rather than the city hiring crews itself.
The FDOT has split the future widening of PCB Parkway into three segments. They are:
From Mandy Lane to Nautilus Street, which is scheduled to begin construction in mid- to late 2023.
From Nautilus Street to Richard Jackson Boulevard, which also is scheduled to begin construction in mid- to late 2023.
From Richard Jackson Boulevard to the Hathaway Bridge, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2028.
The first two segments will be simultaneously constructed and are estimated to cost about $33 million. The third segment is slated to cost about $31 million.
Bike lanes and sidewalks also will be installed along each side of the expanding highway. Additional improvements to the road during the project include:
New traffic signals at Mandy Lane, Gulf Boulevard and North Glades Trail.
A new eastbound left-turn lane into Pier Park.
A new southbound left-turn lane on Alf Coleman Road.
A new eastbound lane to the flyover leading up to the west side of the Hathaway Bridge.
"I think it's great," Chester said of the expansion. "It should have been done years ago just to help relieve some of the traffic. It's a great project, and I'm glad FDOT and the state of Florida are coming in and helping us out. It's a main thoroughfare between Panama City and Walton County."