Construction of the estimated $11 million Bay Parkway extension in Panama City Beach is expected to start early next year after months of delays caused in part by Hurricane Michael.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — After a few months of delays, construction of the Bay Parkway extension is expected to start early next year.
The Bay County Commission recently voted to transfer $4 million in state money to Panama City Beach for the estimated $11 million project. The transfer comes after the project — designed to ease traffic on Back Beach Road — was delayed mainly because of Hurricane Michael, officials said.
Beach Mayor Mike Thomas said the city was about 90 percent complete with its plans for the project.
“We hope to put it out for bid in November and then for construction to get started the first of the year,” Thomas said.
Construction on the project previously was expected to start earlier this year. However, the Category 5 hurricane that ripped through the county 11 months ago altered those plans.
“The hurricane, that was a lot of it … we couldn’t get help doing surveys,” Thomas said, referring to how swamped professionals in the building and construction industries have been during recovery since the hurricane.
The project will extend Bay Parkway, previously known as Loop Road, from its current connection with Pier Park Drive southeast to Nautilus Street.
When finished, motorists headed into Panama City Beach on State 79 will turn onto Bay Parkway and drive all the way to the Colony Club community without traveling Back Beach Road. Doing so will let drivers bypass the busy traffic section around Pier Park.
“It’ll make a lot of difference, relieve a lot of problems,” Thomas said of the project. “It’s busy.”
The $4 million in transferred money comes from the Florida Department of Transportation. The state money will be combined with $3.5 million from the city and another $3.5 million in surtax money from the county to pay for the project.
Phillip Griffitts, chairman of the Bay County Commission, agreed that the project would greatly benefit motorists around the Pier Park area once it’s finished.
“It’ll help alleviate some traffic on Back Beach Road,” Griffitts said. “We’ve been working with the Beach on this for a long time.”