Bay Co. Commissioners Approve Two Road Improvement Projects

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Bay County Commissioners are moving forward with two major road improvement projects on Bertha Nelson Road and the East Ave. bridge leading to the Panama City Mill and Eastern Shipbuilding using funds from the half cent sales tax increase. 

The improvements on Bertha Nelson Road will be the first paving project the County has done using surtax funds.

The 450,000 dollar project was awarded to Anderson Columbia Co., and will pave nearly a mile of Bertha Nelson Road from Titus Road to Highway 231. It also includes storm water drainage and other improvements.

Bay County Commissioner, Guy Tunnell, is looking forward to what the upgrade will do for his district.

"My district is very rural and one of the biggest complaints is about paving the roads, and certainly anytime we can get any asphalt in my district, the better," he said.

The improvements are anticipated to be completed by March 2018.

Commissioners are also partnering with Port Panama City and the City of Panama City, and using the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Bridge Replacement Program.

Bay County's Public Works Director, Keith Bryant, said the program will cover 75 percent of the cost to replace the East Avenue Bridge.

"Fortunately we worked out this partnership with the Port and Panama City, and the County is going to do our 25 percent local match for the design," he said. "The DOT is paying for 75 percent for the design, and that'll be the same formula we use for construction."

The project costs more than 700,000 dollars, so the 25 percent local match comes out to about 193,000 dollars. 

Bay County, the City, and Port will split that and pay 66,000 dollars each, which is what the county is putting their surtax funds toward.

Commissioner Robert Carroll believes this will greatly benefit the Port as they begin their expansion.

"The port is already out there working so they need that bridge to come in as soon as possible because they're having to bring their equipment through there to build the new facility," he said. "So we're excited, it's a great partnership between DOT, the Port and Panama City."

The design phase for the bridge has already begun and will take about eight months to complete before construction can begin.

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