Billions of dollars could be headed to Northwest Florida and motorists will reap the benefits.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) unveiled its tentative five year work plan on Tuesday with a series of public hearings via video conference. The next major milestone in the process is gaining approval of the plan, which earmarks more than $3 billion for Panhandle projects, in the 2014 session of the Florida Legislature.
The list includes some major projects in Bay County that have finally made their way to the top of the priority list. Among them are the flyover at U. S. Highway 98 and 23rd Street and widening of State Highway 390.
The flyover project has a price tag of $88 million and is scheduled to get underway in 2015. The FDOT has already purchased property and demolished structures along the project route.
Highway 390 will be widened from two lanes to six lanes from 23rd Street to State Highway 77. Phase one construction is planned for 2017. The construction is budgeted at $58 million and the agency has budgeted another $71 million for right of way acquisition.
Ian Satter, FDOT spokesman, said the agency will offer property owners along the project route fair market value for their land. "We're going to come out there in the best faith to work with people as best as we can," Satter said.
Other significant projects in the FDOT plan include the Gulf Coast Parkway – a four lane highway connecting Bay and Gulf counties – and four-laning of State Highway 77 from Interstate 10 to the Bay County line.
"People will see a dramatic change in how they travel and the efficiency and the safety that will be there for them will be a comfort once we finish up with the projects," Satter said.