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A modern, elegant new span across St. Andrews Bay.
The new Hathaway Bridge between the Bay County mainland and Panama City Beach will be postcard beautiful, a slender and graceful structure that is certain to become a new area landmark.
The bridge will be functional as well, providing the traffic capacity needed for future growth and making new accommodations for bicycle, pedestrian and marine traffic.
1. The Need for a New Bridge
The present day US-98 Hathaway Bridge between Panama City and Panama City Beach was opened to traffic in 1960. By 1970, an average 15,600 vehicles were crossing the bridge each day.
The number doubled by 1982 and approached 57,000 by 1998.The Hathaway Bridge has been a transportation bottleneck since the late 1980’s, but the problem runs much deeper than travel delays
Congestion on the narrow bridge causes traffic accidents and injuries; the resulting gridlock slows transportation and commerce over a much larger area.
From 1993 to 1997, a total of 416 traffic accidents occurred between the western bridge approach at Woodlawn Avenue and the eastern approach at College Drive.
The accidents resulted in 442 injuries and a total economic loss of approximately $28 million dollars.
The bridge provides no refuge lane for stalled vehicles, and has no sidewalk or protected lane for bicycles and pedestrians.
The bridge’s low clearance impedes marine traffic.
Project over time the economic loss from traffic accidents and lost business – then allow for the cost of living — and the $86 million dollars being spent to replace the bridge becomes a very logical investment.
The new Hathaway Bridge will handle more traffic with greater efficiency, provide increased safety margins, contribute to the entire area transportation network, and improve the overall experience of visitors to greater Panama City:
•An estimated 97,700 vehicles will use the bridge every day by 2020
•The new bridge includes protected lanes for bicycles and pedestrians
•A higher vertical clearance will allow for freer flow of marine traffic
•New recreation areas will be located at both ends of the new bridge
•Less congestion means more visitors will stop at area businesses
The new Hathaway Bridge will be a beautiful new landmark for Bay County; it will stimulate area commerce by moving more traffic through the area.
Bay County will begin to see the benefits when the first of the two new spans opens in Winter 2002 or Spring 2003
2. The New Bridge
The new Hathaway Bridge is actually two bridges, which will both carry three lanes of traffic, one auxiliary lane and one pedestrian/bicycle lane in a single direction. The new bridges will be built just north of the existing bridge and within existing state right-of-way.
No additional property will be required for the new bridges, and environmental impacts will be minimal.
Construction of the bridges is now underway, with the northernmost span scheduled to be opened to traffic in Winter 2002 or Spring 2003.
The two 80′ wide segmental bridges which will link Panama City with Panama City Beach on the gulf coast of Florida.
This Project is being constructed by a Design Build team which includes: Granite Construction Company, HNTB,
and Reynolds, Smith & Hills CS.
The project which began in Oct., 2000 should be open to traffic by May of 2004.