Gulf Coast Jam traffic woes

Law enforcement urges public to be patient
Gulf Coast Jam Traffic Concerns
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:39 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Making it to Gulf Coast Jam can present its own set of challenges.

“When we get down here, you know, Back Beach Road started cluttering up everything,” Gulf Coast Jam attendee Will Travis said. “You can tell everyone’s getting pretty excited to come out here tonight.”

However, Panama City Beach Police Department officials say traffic comes with the territory.

“We live in a tourist destination,” Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said. “So, this type of traffic should be expected.”

PCBPD isn’t alone in handling the heavy traffic.

“We’re here to help augment personnel to be a force-multiplier for them,” Captain David Baldwin with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said.

BCSO officials said being strategic is half the battle.

“We’ve closed down certain roads and made certain roads one-way only,” Baldwin said. “We’ve directed traffic in certain directions which gives them the avenue to go to the larger roadways to get them home into town. [These include] 79, 388, Bay Parkway.”

Road closures also apply to the venue itself. Law enforcement personnel say they shut down a roadway to car traffic at Frank Brown Park once the event ends each night. It’s to help ensure those walking in the dark can leave the park safely and quickly.

Talamantez urges the public to use sidewalks if they opt to walk instead. He also wants everyone to use their judgment wisely. The Chief said drinking and driving could land you behind bars.

“The only major change is we have off-site parking at Aaron Bessant Park,” he said. “That does cause some different obstacles with regards to the pedestrians crossing Back Beach Road onto Frank Brown property. So, I say please, use a crosswalk. Do not take the chance and cross Back Beach Road while not being in a crosswalk. It is not worth it. Walk the extra couple feet. Go to the crosswalk.”

It’s all about having fun while also packing your patience. NewsChannel 7 was told an estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Gulf Coast Jam event.