This month’s Friday at the Beach was held at the Edgewater Beach Resort yesterday and featured guest speakers Ben Faust from DRMP and Panama City Beach Planning Director Mel Leonard. The topic was the highly anticipated Front Beach Road CRA and details and updates.
CRA is short for Community Redevelopment Area and was created a couple of years ago because of the sprawling growth and development and concerns over whether the infrastructure in place could handle the automobile and pedestrian traffic in addition to the increase in strain to existing utilities infrastructure. The goal of the CRA is to not only increase the workability and viability of the infrastructure, but also to beautify the area and make it more pedestrian friendly and “walkable”.
The first project to begin as part of the CRA is Churchwell Drive, by the post office on the beach. Faust said that this was the first, not because of priority, but because the FDOT funds were ready for that one, so they decided to begin. Included in this section of the CRA will be landscaping, underground utilities and 127 parking spaces for the public beach access. I could be wrong on this date, but scheduled completion is in the summer of 2008.
The official “ground-breaking” for the Beckrich Road CRA will be on September 12, 2007 with approximately a 22 month construction time. I don’t have details as to what exactly this will involve, but I plan to stop by the DRMP office in the next couple of weeks. Currently they are working on getting some of the Edgewater property ready for these improvements.
In addition to the parcel purchased on Thomas Drive, the city is negotiating and preparing to purchase 8 other parcels on this section of Thomas Drive to help improve and prepare for the Multi modal Tram Station to go on the large parcel the link shows you above. They are also planning on having a separate Station on the west end of Panama City Beach around the Highway 79 area on the City Hall Campus. Faust mentioned that in the designing of the East End Multi modal Station, that they recognize that it needs to be more than just a tram station, it needs to be a place where people will want to gather and it has got to offer amenities that people will use and enjoy in addition to being beautiful.
The actual Front Beach Road planning is done with approval for the first phase to go before the city next month. The “typical” Front Beach Road layout will the the 100′ width streetscape example with a Tram pullout lane, pedestrian walkways and bike paths on either side of the road way. Although, now that I think about it, I don’t know that most of the roadway will be like the 66′ wide example, with the 100′ wide example representing what the roadway will look like periodically at Tram stops.
The end result will feature walkways all along Front Beach Road, landscaping to accentuate the roadways and beautify the pedestrian experience and bike and transit lanes so that people will be able to move up and down the beach without their cars, I can’t wait.
For updates visit PCBOnTheMove.com
Pictures from the event.Print Story