FDOT Moves Forward in U.S. 98 Flyover Project

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PANAMA CITY-- The Florida Department of Transportation is preparing for the next phase of the highway 98 flyover project.

It's designed to alleviate congestion from the Hathaway bridge into Panama City.

Thursday evening locals got a chance to see renderings of the end product during a public information meeting.

Summmer of 2015, that's when the Florida Department of Transportation plans to begin construction on its $88 million dollar flyover project.

It will be done in two phases. "We will start with the first part of our project, which will be a new U.S. 98 route that people will have to use for a couple of years, but it will also be a part of the final project," said FL Department of Transportation Public Information Director Ian Satter.

Port Panama City officials say the Port will be affected by the initial phase. But once it's complete they say the flyover will provide better access to the Port from the West.

"It's going to be painful going through it, but we're willing to endure that to get to the end product," said Deputy Director of Port Authority Panama City Charlie Lewis.

The project will seamlessly connect 23rd Street as you're heading west on 98 and eliminate the traffic light at that intersection.

DOT officials say the annual traffic is projected to more than double from 68,000 to 114,000 by 2030.

"So what we need to do is get ahead of that, we're going to build this flyover so we can alleviate some of the traffic problems that people are seeing now as well as what they will experience in the future," said Satter.

The Port isn't the only local business that will be affected.
Gulf Coast State College will lose some of its ballfields and access to the campus could be challenge.

"Probably going to have to wind up directing most of our traffic to the collegiate drive intersection, so basically changing the front of our campus from the south side, to the north side," said Gulf Coast State College V.P. of Administration and Finance John Mercer.

Mercer said overall he believes the project will benefit the community and Gulf Coast will do its best to minimize the impact to faculity, staff, and students.

DOT officials said construction on the flyover project will start next summer and take four years to complete.