CALLAWAY - Florida Department of Transportation officials have narrowed their choices for a major highway project. Of the five possible routes for the Gulf Coast Parkway, they say they prefer the one that will pass directly through the city of Callaway.
Traffic in Callaway could get a lot heavier if Florida Department of Transportation officials decide to put a state highway in the middle of the city.
The 30 mile Gulf Coast Parkway will connect Highway 98 in Gulf County to highways 231 and 98 in Bay County. Transportation officials say they prefer the route that would go through the city of Callaway.
"It is good news for Callaway. It structures the entire Allanton peninsula and the east side of town for future growth and development. The infrastructure is there because we made that commitment several years ago," said Callaway Mayor Thomas Abbott.
In 2009, Callaway city commissioners passed a resolution urging the Florida Department of Transportation to select the plan that would go right through Callaway. DOT officials took public input that same year and found most people overwhelmingly preferred that route.
"We're still quite a few years out from the start of actual construction of the Gulf Coast Parkway, but this is the first good step to get us where we need to be," said Ian Satter with the Fl Dept. of Transportation.
The proposed parkway project would cost an estimated $519 million. If DOT selects the Callaway route, 26 homes and 3 businesses will have to move, but Callaway city officials say the project is a game changer for the city's future.
"That's what we focus on, preparing for what Callaway will look like in the future. This is something we had planned for a long time. We were hopeful, cautiously optimistic and it looks like it very well may come to pass," said Abbott.
The DOT is holding two public hearings on the project. One in Port St. Joe on May 6th and in Springfield on May 8th.