The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced this week that crews have begun work on the first segment to expand U.S. 98 (the Panama City Parkway). The three segment project will expand the parkway from four to six lanes. The first segment spans from Mandy Lane to Nautilus Street, and will cost about $50 million.
"This project has been a priority not only for the Florida Department of Transportation, but the Bay County Transportation Planning organization," said Ian Satter, FDOT spokesperson. "We have done thorough studies from the project development and environmental study phase, to design, and now construction is here.
"It's one of several projects we have currently going on in Bay County that will reduce congestion and improve safety throughout the region."
Construction of segment 2 should start next month, according to Satter. It will be built alongside segment 1, and both are expected to be finished towards the end of 2027. Segment 2 will cost about $60 million, and expand from Nautilus Street to Richard Jackson Boulevard.
The project was broken up into segments to help with state funding and planning.
Segment 3 will go from Richard Jackson Boulevard to the Hathaway Bridge, but may take a few years before it begins, according to Satter. It is expected to cost $79 million.
"When we originally did the project development and environment study for U.S. 98, we looked from Mandy Lane all the way down to the Hathaway Bridge," Satter said. "When you have a project in that length ... what we oftentimes will do is break them down into smaller segments so that they're easier to manage and the funding is easier to acquire.
"And in this case, we have three segments that we have defined for widening in that area, and we were able to get funding for two of those segments this year."
Construction of segments 2 and 3 will result in lane closures, however one lane will stay open. Crews will work from about 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"You'll always have two east and westbound lanes of traffic open, unless there is a situation during those overnight hours where (crews) have to have a lane restriction or closure to allow equipment to come in and out of the work zone," Satter said. "During the normal time periods, you should have two lanes of traffic like people normally do right now."