PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Department of Transportation opened the westbound lanes of the new state road 388 stretching from Northwest Florida Beach International Airport to highway 79.

The new section of the highway is part of the Florida Department of Transits project to expand SR-388 to accommodate the airport. 

Once complete, the new four-lane road will replace the western half of the old two-lane road. 

“It’s a realignment of the state road 388 if you notice traffic to-and-from the airport [has] significantly increased in the last few years,” airport Deputy Executive Director Richard McConnell said. “And so there was an indication that they needed to realign the state road a little bit one to widen it to four lanes add some bicycle lanes add a roundabout entrance at the airport.”

The new portion of the highway runs four miles, joining highway 79 at the entrance to Margaritaville. 

Crews are working in a way that will prevent the complete interruption of airport operations. 

“In order to keep the entrances open to the airport and to the east and west on 388, they have to take the project in phases, open up small parts and then close down other parts,” McConnell said. 

Their attention will now turn to the eastbound section of 388.

Once the new road is open to traffic in both directions, old SR-388 will become a county road.

McConnell said that the new traffic pattern will make it much easier to travel to and from the airport.