Progress made on Front Beach Road construction

CRA segment two project is starting to wrap up and Front Beach business owners are looking...
CRA segment two project is starting to wrap up and Front Beach business owners are looking forward to the final product. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Oct. 22, 2019 at 6:13 PM CDT
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The Panama City Beach Community Redevelopment Agency has a goal, to make entire area more desirable for locals and visitors.

"The CRA is a long term project. It kicked off in 2002 and it's a 30 year project so it goes all the way until 2032," said Panama City Beach City Manager Mario Gisbert.

Upgrades will include laying new pavement, adding trolley and bike lanes, burying utilities, installing landscaping and lights, and adding wide sidewalks.

But as the portion of work from South Thomas Drive to Richard Jackson Boulevard along Front Beach Road wraps up, local businesses say it's been a trying couple of years.

"It's been a tough three years, basically it's been very disruptive for my business and everybody else here," said the owner of Shipwreck LTD, Jim Bradley.

The general manager for Barefoot Bar and Grill, Tabitha Eddins, says some of the work has pushed away customers.

"It's so hard to get in here they almost just don't even try," said Eddins.

This is the second segment of the project, and it has seen some delays.

The recession in 2008 slowed down the flow of money and Hurricane Michael delayed some of the work.

While some business owners say this road work has affected their business, they believe in the long run it'll help them out.

"Actually it looks really beautiful. I think it's gonna be a great benefit to this whole phase of the beach," said Bradley.

"It's beautiful. I like it, I love it. If you're walking down Front Beach it's nice to look at," said Eddins.

The goal of the CRA is to increase foot traffic, and make the area safer and more pedestrian friendly.

"It's not just about the car. it's about the bicyclists, it's about multi-modal. And that is exactly what this is," said Gisbert.

Within the next month red asphalt will be layed down for the trolley road.

Before the end of the year, segment two is supposed to be completed.

The CRA works on a mile and a half of Front Beach Road at a time.

Once this is completed the next segment will start by Highway 79.

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