Front Beach Road CRA is unofficial city 'Main Street'
CRA Director David Campbell addressed the Panama City Beach Planning Board recently, giving them an update on the status of Segment 2 of the CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) Plan.
The Segment 2 area on Front Beach Road from Thomas Drive to just west of Richard Jackson Boulevard is substantially complete and awaiting final pavement. It will include red paved east/west lanes to help motorists more easily differentiate the trolley and bike lanes from vehicular traffic lanes. The red asphalt will be put down this fall.
The Front Beach Road Community Redevelopment Area plan is a long-term project to revamp what is essentially our City's Main Street. The PCB City Council approved an ordinance on September 12 approving an assessment on CRA property to pay for long-term maintenance and administrative fees in the CRA. The average assessment is less than $50 a year for a residential property owner, and only those properties within the CRA will pay the annual assessment. Funds cannot be used for any other purpose.
The Front Beach Road CRA was started in June 2001 to address traffic blight and improve mobility by creating more pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation options. It is a 30-year project which includes correcting and improving transportation, safety, parking, beach access on Front Beach Road and the north/south connector roads. These roads within the CRA will have new pavement, sidewalks, dedicated trolley/bicycle lanes, landscaping, underground utilities and decorative lighting.
The PCB Front Beach Road CRA has been instrumental in increasing property values 346 percent over a 16-year period, based on county tax calculations. The Front Beach Road CRA benefits property owners, businesses, residents and tourists through the enhancement of the tourist corridor, making it safer, more attractive, better lighted and storm hardened with buried utilities.
Segment 3 of the CRA, which includes State Road 79 and Front Beach Road east to Lullwater, is expected to go out to bid in first quarter 2020, Campbell said. Property acquisition is ongoing in the area of the Y where State Road 79 (Arnold Road) and Front Beach Road fork.
Residents are excited for the future mobility and aesthetic improvements.
“My husband and I are new Panama City Beach residents. We recently rode our bicycles for the first time on the newly completed section of Front Beach Road,” Thomas Drive residents recently wrote in an email to the City. “We so appreciated the bike lanes the new roads provided. We felt much safer and I’m sure traffic flow will also improve. Thank you for providing safe recreation and access for bicyclists.”
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261.