Some residents who live just off of a very busy Bay County highway are asking for help tonight. They would like a way to leave and enter their neighborhoods in a safer manner. News 13 looks at their issues in this Problem Solver report.
Those residents, who mainly live in Mill Creek, are talking about a median access point on Highway 77…placed much closer to their neighborhood. Resident Gina Poe tells News 13, "The speed limit is 65...and people are usually going 70 - 75…and it's really dangerous pulling out in the mornings taking the kids to school...in the afternoons bringing them home from school the traffic is just crazy." Poe also tells us, "There is no pull out for us to try to ease into traffic. And then we drive up quite a ways to do a U-turn… into 70-75 mile per hour traffic…to get the kids to school which is what I do four times a day."
And. close calls. Poe says, "Absolutely. I have to put my blinker on quite a ways down the road. It has happened quite a few times when they don't see me."
Resident Stephen Bonifay came up with his own idea of turn lanes and median access at Mill Creek. According to Bonifay, "It is hard sometimes…traffic coming up on you. Close calls? Couple of times. People coming up on you quick and you wouldn't think they are coming that fast. It is scary."
There are about 35 homes here in Mill Creek. And even more just across the street in White Oaks where drivers deal with the same issues but in a different direction. There have been unsuccessful efforts in the past to gain approval from the state for a median access here.
Public Information Officer Ian Satter with the Florida Department of Transportation says the roads leading in to both neighborhoods present a challenge. Satter says, "Instead of coming to a point like this, it is a staggered entrance there. We would have to look at that area to determine whether or not a median access point here would be the safest not only for the people who live here but also for the thousands of people who travel on State Road 77 everyday.
On the day we were there last week, Satter told residents that a possible median review starts with the FDOT office in Panama City. He says it will be a lengthy process and any change to the median at that point would require a public hearing on the matter. But, at least residents know how to again approach the idea with the state. We wish them all the best and will provide you any updates on what happens in the future.