Major construction continues on a busy section of U.S. Highway 98 in Panama City Beach. But those upgrades are bringing changes that not all drivers are happy about. News 13 looks closer in this Problem Solver report.
Work along an eight-mile section of Highway 98 in Panama City Beach started a year ago next month. The Florida Department of Transportation says it includes resurfacing from Heather Drive to the Thomas Drive overpass. Also, sidewalks and turn lanes in some sections. But one Beach resident says it is taking too long to finish. Stephanie Rager lives near the intersection of Lyndell Lane and Back Beach Road. She says, "Lot of construction that started and stopped. It is not continuous. The sidewalks…they will work on one day and then you won't see them for another three weeks. And they will work a little bit more then they will stop." Rager says she is particularly concerned about the intersection of Lyndell Lane and Back Beach Road. She tells News 13, "it is dangerous when they ripped up the median and created grooves in the road. It gets slippery."
News 13 took these concerns to FDOT. This work takes time…a major highway like this has to remain open for traffic.
According to Public Information Officer Ian Satter, due to the fact this is resurfacing and not new construction, it has to be done in phases.
The existing roadway varies a bit and it takes time for milling and paving with respect to the finished shape of the road. The grooved pavement is in the turn lane areas only and is necessary to allow proper drainage until time for a final surface. And, the roadside features (shoulders, sidewalks, turn lanes, etc.) are constructed to tie to the new asphalt surface at the proper time. Again, there are variations in the timing of all of these factors in order to complete this project according to plans. A final smooth surface will be the last portion of the project.
Satter also says work will continue on sidewalks and drainage work will be hopefully completed by the end of the year. Paving resumes after the first of the year. The contract time currently expires in May. News 13 will keep you updated on the progress of the road construction.