FDOT making plans to widen busy roadway in Panama City Beach

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A popular roadway in Panama City Beach is the topic of discussion for transportation officials. The Florida Department of Transportation held a public meeting Thursday about their plans to widen Back Beach road from four lanes to six lanes.

FDOT allowed the public to look at maps of the busy roadway and businesses along both sides. The meeting allowed the community to ask questions to officials.

The widening project will extend a little over 7 miles from Mandy Lane near Frank Brown Park to where Thomas Drive and Back Beach Road meet. Officials with FDOT say they've already conducting preliminary surveys that show there is a need to widen the road.

The Department of Transportation says they're still in a very early stage in the process. Next, they'll start creating designs to give more details on their plans for Back Beach Road.

A spokesperson for FDOT says they encourage more people to come out to meetings. "It's always a great sight to see people coming out. We appreciate the comments," said Ian Satter, spokesperson from the Florida Department of Transportation, "We appreciate the questions. It's essential for us to get that information to include that with our study. We'll look at traffic data and crash data. We'll look at environmental concerns. We'll look at property issues, but the key part of that is getting the public input."

FDOT says it'll take a couple years to complete the study. They say it should be done around 2018.

The Department of Transportation says they don't have an idea yet of how much the project will cost. They'll have a better understanding once the design phase is complete.