Panama City Beach - After 2 ½ years of temporary bridges, detours and dodging heavy equipment, all 4 lanes of the Grand Lagoon Bridge are now open to traffic. Bay County Commissioners snipped the ribbon on the new and improved Grand Lagoon Bridge Monday morning.
County officials had long wanted to replace the old two lane bridge because of traffic congestion. Because the project was shovel-ready, the it qualified for $19 million in federal stimulus money.
"We have four lanes on each end of the bridge and with us being able to four lane this bridge and with the side walks, bike lanes, and the walk ways its been a tremendous design and construction and we're happy its completed," said Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier.
Besides alleviating bottle necking by adding the 4 lanes and turning lanes to the bridge, it's also going to help alleviate some environmental issues as well.
The $17.5 million project included more than just the new bridge.
"We were able to pave over 20 dirt roads that lead into Grand Lagoon eliminating tons of dirt that was washing into the lagoon," said Dozier.
"It's more than just a lagoon right here it will filter all the way out into the lagoon," said Pat Banks.
Pat Bank's husband Lynn was the former president of the Friends of The Grand Lagoon group, and was a major supporter of the project. He died in April 2010 before seeing the bridge completed. Commissioners dedicated the bridge in his honor.
"This was a very passion and love of his to get this done as it is with a lot of people who were involved with it," said Banks.
Friends of the Grand Lagoon are now pushing for the dredging of Grand Lagoon.