Possible Toll Road Planned from Dothan to Panama City Airport

by May 3, 2008 • 13 comments

A Chipley online news publication, FosterFollyNews.com, reported of a possible toll road traveling from Dothan, Alabama through Washington County and down to the new airport. The road will eventually connect to Montgomery, Alabama.

This project is under discussion and will be addressed at a public meeting at the Washington County Annex as proposed by a group called Focus Thursday May 15th at 9am. With initial discussions being held in April, no official route was discussed nor commitment timelines.

A possible route may be from Montgomery to Dothan, AL, then to Campbellton, FL then across Chipley, then south through Vernon to the new airport.

In the same publication, it was also reported that a big announcement will take place on May 8th or May 12th regarding this project and that a secret meeting which included private jet rides with Commissioners Snellgrove and Cook from Houston County, Commissioners from Geneva and Jackson County Florida, and Luther Strange, an attorney, lobbist, and former candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama.

It was reported that the toll road will be a private project estimated unconfirmed at over $1.6 billion.

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1 steve May 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

woohoo baby! lets get that thing put in!!

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2 John Shook May 6, 2008 at 8:58 am

I have family that lives in the Washington County area in the vicinity of the proposed route. Surveyors have been working in the area for a few years, trapsing across wilderness and farm land and never giving answer to why. A lot of the local farm families in the area are very opposed to this idea of a highway possibly carving through or too near their lands. This plan will meet more resistance than the Airport has.
What’s strange to me is I wasn’t aware that private toll roads were profitable to build. This is very interesting that a private group would invest time, energy and money to plan a road that is hundreds of miles long and goes through several hundred individually owned parcels and hope that it has a profit in the end. I wonder how this could possibly work?

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3 Mike Denton May 6, 2008 at 10:33 am

This sounds great…….but I have one question. When this first started several years back…this road was suspose to come down from Montgomery around Enterprise, AL down Alabama 167 and join our Highway 79 at the state line. This divided the area between Alabama hwy 331 and hwy 231 which also shortened the distance south from Montgomery. This original plan would make more sense in reference to the shorter distance factor as well as the most direct route to the new airport.
Is the new routing due to the fact that the private company that is to build this so called road out of Dothan.
I know from my own experience that going up hwy 79 to ala 167 past Enterprise is much quicker than either 331 for 231 from the beach.

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4 Jason Koertge May 6, 2008 at 12:15 pm

John, do you have any information that supports that a toll road is not profitable to build? I’m asking out of lack of knowledge, not criticism. I’d just be interested to know how those numbers look. Googleing sun pass I found an article that stated that Sunpass had sold 3.4 million transponders since 1999. After looking at their website, in order to buy a sunpass you have to purchase the device for $25 and buy a minimum of $25 prepaid toll. That’s $170 million just in upfront revenue over 9 years, not including “re-up” revenue and toll charges from those that don’t buy the sun pass. I would love to see some numbers here.

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5 Sam May 7, 2008 at 9:21 am

It sounds great. In long term , will be good for whole area.
Does any body know the proposed route. Any Drawing or site plan came out? I want to see the route near the chipley

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6 Joe May 12, 2008 at 12:11 pm

We pay an awful lot of taxes, gas and state vehicle included. Why should we have to pay more for roads?

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7 jsa May 13, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Tolls reimburse the investors that pay for the road construction (estimated at $1.7 billion). No state or federal monies are currently available to build this road so a public/private partnership was the only way to get it done in the next ten years. After 30 years the road is deeded over to the public.

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8 Joe May 16, 2008 at 8:41 am

Maybe if the State of Florida can get our money back from Lehman the state could fund it.According to Bloomberg.com article(Apr. 8, 2008 by David Evans) Lehman sold us $842 million of mortgage-backed debt in July and August. Those securities defaulted within 4 months. Oh, and Jeb Bush is consulting for Lehman.

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9 Jim Palmer May 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm

I was not able to attend the public meeting held on the 15th due to work, but I understand from people that were there that it was quite a heated meeting with more questions raised than answers given. Hard to believe that after 15-20 years of discussion about the project that they could not tell any one where the road was going to come through Washington County. And the nonsense about 4 to 7 offramps for Washington County? Give us a break! This is for the sole purpose of getting the driver to the beach as rapidly as possible with no stops. Sure will not benefit us here in Washington County.

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10 William McCown May 17, 2008 at 9:26 am

After reading the postings, I am a bit confused. Why is a toll road connecting the area and its major export, the International Airport a bad decision for the area. You are connecting many small towns and municipalities with the airport, a large municipality in Montgomery and Dothan and a major tourist destination Panama City Beach. To assume this will destroy the “quality of life” now experienced in the Washington and Bay county areas is at best short sighted. The ancillary coverage it would bring to the area would create a vibe for the county it has been unable or reluctant to create itself. Quaint isolationist towns can no longer exist due to the ever increasing cost to operate itself. It must grow and allow expansion or become a ghost town. Regardless if the proposed 5-7 off-ramps in Washington county would ever take place is a non relevant issue. If they placed one off ramp into Washington county the diverse impact as well as the economic impact would be exponential. The facts are, expansion happens around small town America everyday. The same arguments of government waste and voter/landowner descension comes out of every argument. Everyone is posturing to take an Alamo like stand against the greedy imposing their will on the little guy. Typically, once the offer sheet comes in, the descension dies quickly and only the hardened, short sighted few stay to fight for “their” way of life.

The Panama City/ Bay County airport is the first major International Airport to be built in this country since Denver International Airport opened nearly 15 years ago with an economic impact of more than one hundred million dollars to the area. It could have been built anywhere; they chose here.

The airport and the proposed toll road will make major strides in the economic growth and viability of all the surrounding areas and within a few years you will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to profess their outward contempt for either.

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11 JOE JEZEWSKI November 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Interesting you note that “they” decided to build the airport here. Who is “they”? I was under the assumption that the new PC/Beaches Airport was being built because the old airport was too landlocked, too small, and the runway approaches needed to be clearer/less populated.

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