The conversation resumes.
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Transportation held a public hearing at the Centennial Building in Port St. Joe to renew discussions on the Gulf Coast Parkway, a project that would create a four-lane highway connecting Gulf and Bay counties.
In the plans presented, the proposed path would branch off from existing County 386 with connections at U.S. 231 and U.S. 98 in Springfield.
Representatives from FDOT presented five potential alignments and took comments from Gulf County and Mexico Beach citizens.
FDOT employees said that the route would provide enhanced economic development, direct access to tourist destinations, a detour around Tyndall Air Force Base and an additional route for hurricane evacuation.
The highway, projected to begin construction in 2015, would terminate at County 386 but no changes would be made to the existing road.
One citizen expressed concern that the highway would lead to the area becoming commercialized like Panama City or Destin, while another suggested that the Gulf to Bay road, creating a faster back beach highway to connect the same destinations be completed first.
The project, in the planning stages since 2009, comes with an estimated price tag of $518 million. More information can be found online at www.gulfcoastparkway.com and public comments made me made through the site.