Spring Break traffic on Back Beach Rd. has drivers bumper to bumper

Spring Break Traffic
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:43 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - If you have to travel Panama City Beach Pkwy. or what’s known as Back Beach Road, especially for the month of March, you know it’s pretty much slow going.

Heavy traffic from spring break is causing the Bay County Traffic Management Division to reprogram traffic signals.

“Our system has multiple timing libraries that are engineered to provide good progressive traffic flow throughout the various seasons,” said Cliff Johnson, Traffic Engineering Division manager for Bay County.

Cliff Johnson says changing the pattern of the signals helps with the flow, even when it seems like you’re progressing at a snail’s pace.

“Based on our observations and measurements of the real time traffic we are able to implement those timing patterns as necessary,” said Johnson.

The timing is all based on how much traffic is moving in certain areas.

“The traffic volumes that we experience in the summertime are up to 70,000 cars a day so that’s a significant fluctuation from the normal traffic in the off season which is probably around 45,000,” said Johnson.

Officials with the Bay County Traffic Management Division say that during the spring break season, Back Beach is the most traveled road.

“There are times when the road it becomes way over its designed capacity and there is really not a lot, we can do with those traffic signals during those heavily congested periods,” said Johnson.

The congested Back Beach Rd. is something those from out of state are learning to deal with too.

“I’ve never seen a highway this busy it takes us forever to get across,” said Ron Lammers, visiting from out of state.

The traffic is making those who are unfamiliar with the area find new routes to avoid waiting on the roads.

“We are trying to learn some of the side roads but were staying in an RV park right now and only the way to get out of there is 98 so we’re stuck with it,” said Lammers.

Locals are trying to stay off Back Beach as much as possible.

“I try to avoid it as much as i can traffic gotten a lot worse than previously but it’s going to get worse,” said Stephen Dohanyos, a local.

Having to factor in being bumper to bumper traffic.

“My commute to work was 20 minutes now it takes me 40 minutes to get to work so it’s doubled,” said Dohanyos.

This heavy traffic will continue for a few more weeks.