SR 77 Debate at Wausau

The Florida Department of Transportation is proposing changes to the Highway 77 widening project. The state is considering two routes around the town of Wausau. But, residents are fighting against one of those routes.

Florida Department of Transportation is working on a project to widen Highway 77 into a 4 lane road from Bay County, north to Interstate 10. But there's a problem for the plans around Wausau.

"There are options where we would obviously maybe go through Wausau. Some of the plans are not sitting well with some Wausau residents, particularly those who live or work along Highway 77.

Ian Satter is with the D-O-T. "We understand going through Wausau with State Road 77 would take up a lot of property and displace a lot of businesses and homes in that area. So, one of the options we're looking at is a bypass that would go around 77 and have the least amount of disruption to businesses and homes in the town of Wausau."

The project is a top priority, particularly since Highway 77 is a Hurricane Evacuation Route away from the coastline.

Satter also says the widening will bring more economic value to the region. "It allows goods and services to move more efficiently between the interstate and bay county and that includes the port in that area, the air port in that area, connecting those so that we get better use of commerce in that area. That reduces prices for people who in the area. We want to make sure people can get here to visit, to work, to go to school."

The D-O-T is in the planning stages. The state has not allocated any funding for the project yet.

Transportation officials are holding a town hearing on the plans next month at Wausau's town hall.

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