PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — After years of planning and construction, Bay Parkway Phase II is now open for travellers, named after Panama City Beach’s longest standing mayor, Philip Griffitts Senior, who passed away in late 2020.

The Philip Griffitts Sr. Parkway was dedicated on Thursday as his wife Jerrilyn and long-time friend and former Panama City Beach City Manager, Richard Jackson, were the first to drive it… in style.

The pair drove the road in a classic car, starting the drive with a tire burnout in front of friends, family and community members. Griffitts Sr.’s son and Bay County Commissioner “Griff” Griffitts said it was a special moment for him and his family, as his father was a big fan of classic cars with Jackson.

All were there on Thursday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the parkway, which spans about 2.7 miles and gives travelers a new way to travel through the area without the Back Beach Road traffic.

Griffitts said the road is much needed in the area.

“As you can see behind us, the people are already using the roads,” Griffitts said on Thursday. “This will be a heavily utilized road over the summer months especially. Traffic is a big problem in Bay County and Panama City Beach, but that’s also a good problem. That means we have people visiting our beaches and our tourism is thriving.”

The parkway expansion was approved years ago and completed just in time for Jeep Jam and Memorial Day weekend. City leaders said it’s a welcome addition, especially as traffic in the area continues to grow.