If you plan on heading west over the Hathaway Bridge towards the beach Wednesday, be ready for some major lane changes. It's part of the Thomas Drive-Highway 98 flyover project, a 10-year multi-phase project to improve traffic flow around the intersection of Thomas Drive and Highway 98.
When part one of the project is finished it will include an elevated roadway for traffic running from Panama City Beach towards the new Hathaway Bridges. For now all eastbound traffic headed to Front Beach and Back Beach Roads will be rerouted to two northern lanes, which leads to Back Beach Road.
If you want to get to Front Beach Road you will have to use a special connector road about a quarter of a mile west of the Thomas Drive-Highway 98 intersection in between the old Winn-Dixie shopping complex and Subway.
Those working along Front Beach Road, where the lanes will be closed, say the timing of the lane switch couldn't be worse.
"I think they should have done it before spring break because people are confused and it’s going to cause accidents. There's already a lot of accidents and the local people that come in here now use the parking lot next door because they don't want to stop out there," says Four Seasons Discount Liquor Employee, Penny Lane.
Those heading up the project say traffic shouldn't be affected by the lane shift. There will be signs placed along the road to direct traffic. Project consultants say eastbound traffic headed towards Panama City will also be shifted to the north side of the intersection in about a week.
This will allow construction crews to work on the intersection itself, then once the construction is complete on the whole project the temporary shift lanes will become a permanent road used for access to Woodlawn neighborhood and the Navy base.