New State Road 388 expansion opening soon
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The entrance to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is in for some changes within the next couple of months. This is part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s State Road 388 expansion project.
“In the next couple of months, we’ll start to see some traffic changes that will currently change how you enter the airport,” Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Ian Satter said.
The intersection where you enter the airport will be transformed into a four-lane roundabout. Satter said this is going to be one of the largest roundabouts in Northwest Florida.
Satter said a roundabout is a safer way to move traffic through an intersection.
“The likelihood of crashes in a roundabout goes down dramatically. You have less chances for severe crashes, it’ll improve congestion, and with the growth of the airport with people coming in and out of here, it’s going to move traffic more quickly and efficiently.”
NewsChannel 7 spoke with people at a gas station on 388, who seem to have mixed emotions on the upgrade.
“Ideally more lanes will help loosen up that congestion, but I think a roundabout will make it more complicated for people,” visitor William Dytrych said.
“If people will drive like they’re supposed to like it’s meant to be driven, it will be great. But if not, well we’ll see what happens,” resident Heather Darby said.
West of the entrance, another new addition is opening.
“This portion of roadway here that we’re on is going to be the new transition for the traffic we’ll be moving off of the airport. So this is brand new constructed State Road 388, a portion of it that people will be utilizing as we move forward with the next phase of building the roundabout,” said Satter.
The 388 expansion from two to four lanes is said to also help direct traffic from Highway 77 and Highway 79 more efficiently.
“There’s a lot of growth here in Bay County and providing additional lanes for people to be able to travel east and west, perhaps maybe to avoid US-98, which is a very busy stretch of roadway as well, we’re giving people another alternative of traveling through Bay County,” said Satter.
An alternative that’s hoped to soar with the future of 388.
Satter said additional features of the State Road 388 expansion will include trails and multi-use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians. He said the entire project is expected to be complete in 2024. He also said the old State Road 388 will become a county road.
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