Bay County leaders moving forward with study into Old Pass reopening

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB — A study into the East Pass, better known to locals as the “Old Pass” is proceeding in Bay County as county leaders voted to move forward with the project at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

The Old Pass, formerly located between Shell Island and Tyndall Air Force Base, closed over time after the St. Andrew Bay Pass was opened in the 1930s.

Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier said that since then, the health of the bays has been poorly affected as the pass allowed for more salt-water filtration of the bay system.

He said the feasibility study being conducted will hopefully give the Department of Environmental Protection the evidence it needs to agree to reopening the channel. 

“The feasibility study, we believe, will show the importance of opening the Old Pass for the health of the bay system to allow that fresh seawater to flow in and have the cleansing of the bay,” Dozier said.

The study is funded by the RESTORE Act, money granted to the county after the BP oil spill in 2010. 

Once it begins, Dozier said it will take at least 36 months to complete, per DEP requirements. 

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