PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City officials are concerned the flyover project set to come at the intersection of U.S. 98 and 231 will create new problems in a community still reeling from Hurricane Michael.
“The concerns from the city perspective is the flyover will have a negative impact to the city, not only from a transportation perspective but also from an economic perspective,” said Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen.
The project is part of a long-term plan that the Florida Department of Transportation has to widen Highway 231.
“We are going to provide that access to 231,” F-DOT Spokesperson Ian Satter said. “We’re going to make that intersection safer. “We’re going to improve accessibility to 231, 98 and to Harrison Avenue so people can get downtown.”
The city made a presentation at the last Bay County Transportation Planning Organization meeting with a new proposed plan that they created for the roadway.
“I think that there is an alternative that actually meets the transportation requirements and enhances the economy of the City of Panama City,” McQueen said.
They are asking the TPO to re-task the DOT by having them open up their study and consider the alternative that they are proposing.
Satter says this would severely stall the project.
“We would have to begin our process all over again if we were to look at the city of Panama City’s option,” Satter said. “We would have to do our project development and environmental study. That would take about three years. After that, we would have to look at the design of that project which would take another two years.”
There also is a possibility that the project would lose funding.
“We don’t have it funded for construction in the next five years but we do have right-of-way,” Satter said. “Those funds would have to be used somewhere else where projects are ready to go.”
The final decision will be left up to the Bay County TPO. F-DOT will make another presentation on this project at their next TPO meeting on January 30th.