Latest on extending Gayle’s Trails in PCB

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:18 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Miles of walking trails cover Panama City Beach from the west end to the east. While they’re designed to connect, there is still a pretty big gap right in the middle preventing it from happening.

In a city that sees constant growth, former Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst said she knew they had to do something quickly to conserve its natural beauty.

“One day it just kind of hit me,” Oberst said. “I said, gosh guys, you know, this is going to build up, this is going to be a big city one day and we better preserve what we can.”

In 1998, construction began for Gayle’s Trails.

“They said let’s name it after Gayle. It rhymes. Gayle’s Trails,” Oberst said. “So that’s how it happened.”

Perfect for walking, running, and biking, the trails were made with plans to connect the city. Trails run from the Conservation Park through Frank Brown Park and down to the edge of Nautilus Street. That’s where they stop until Breakfast Point, leaving a big gap not designed to cross yet.

One of the most notable unfinished portions is located right by Arnold High School, where there is a distinct no-trespassing sign labeling the area where Gayle’s Trails should continue. For now, city officials said it’s unclear when that will change.

The project was originally pushed back from 2018 to 2020 due to environmental permitting. But once that was done, the city hit another roadblock.

“We did bid out the project earlier this year, and we only received one bid in September of this year and it was way over budget,” Debbie Ingram, Director of Communications for the city of Panama City Beach, said. “We received a grant through the Florida Department of Transportation for about a million dollars. And so we were expecting the bid to come in somewhere along there, but it came in several million over budget.”

Ingram said the city had no choice but to reevaluate numbers.

“We had decided to take a step back, bring the engineer of record back into the project and they’re doing some value engineering. And then we’re going to rebid it out the first of the year,” Ingram said.

The hope is to get things rolling as soon as possible.

“I joke with them and tell them that they’re going to push me in my wheelchair down them,” Oberst said.

For more information on Gayle’s Trails, head to https://www.pcbfl.gov/about-us/visitors/trail-map

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