PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — If you regularly drive in downtown Panama City you need to be aware of a major road closure. Work crews shut down the intersection of 4th Street and Harrison Avenue Monday morning.
Workers began the Harrison Streetscapes project more than a year ago. Phase one costs around $7 million and the funding is coming from county infrastructure sales tax.
Phase one involved 4 blocks, from the downtown marina to 4th Street. The work, which includes replacing underground utilities, paving with cobblestones, widening sidewalks, and a roundabout at 4th and Harrison, was supposed to be completed by the end of last year. However, city officials said workers have run into some obstacles.
“We’re working with, 60, 70, 80-plus-year-old infrastructure up against buildings that are just as old,” Director of Panama City Public Works Jonathan Hayes said. “We have to do things very carefully and decently in order and just be very careful.”
The roundabout at the intersection is supposed to be one of the showpieces of the project.
“Going to be the iconic focal point of downtown Panama City, we are refurbishing the clock that’s been down here for decades it’s going to go back at a very elevated pedestal right at the center of that and it’ll be just a really great area to walk around,” Hayes said.
This intersection currently has a four-way traffic light, but by the end of this project, it will be a roundabout to help with the flow of traffic.
“Traffic doesn’t have to stop necessarily, you’ll see it slow and you might have to stop at some time, some yield point but really, the traffic would keep flowing,” Hayes said.
During construction, traffic will not be allowed thru the intersection but parking and businesses should remain open.
“We can have this complete reconstruction of our roads and infrastructure but also continue to have commerce down here and both could exist at the same time,” Hayes said. “We’re working hard to make sure that continues to happen.”
Construction will last at least through the summer. Phase two, from 4th Street north to 6th Street, is being designed right now.