Will the Y Be Gone at HW 79 and FBR West PCB?

Over the last 18 months, crews have been working quickly to widen the length of Highway 79 from two lanes to four lanes with much of it split with a large grass median.  For those of you that travel up 79, you know this has been a heaven send and has made the road much easier to navigate.  Last week at a city council meeting they voted to move forward on the extension of the widening south of Back Beach Road, or Panama City Beach Parkway.

One of the big hang-ups all along has been how to execute this with the dynamics of an awkwardly designed Y intersection that put businesses close to the corridor of travel.

111909_the_y_round
In this image, you can clearly see the round about. While beautiful, this arrangement would be a nightmare for pedestrians. Feel free to click to enlarge.

 

Up for discussion was two options.  The first option – a round-about – was mocked up at the suggestion of Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst.  The idea was to have something decorative with a signature piece in the middle – sort of “center of Panama City Beach” signature piece.  The intersection would have plenty of green area that could be used for landscaping etc. The only problem was that the pedestrian friendliness turned into sort of a bully with this configuration.  In order to get from the west side of 79 on Front Beach Road to the northeast side without the threat of being beaten up by a car, one had to walk a quarter mile east, cross the road, then follow the curve of the new Y.  Engineers stressed that this intersection is heavily traveled by peds of all shapes and sizes and had a fairly comprehensive list as to why this version of the intersection was not conducive for what they wanted to do.

111909_the_y_t
This arrangement is much more logical. The pedestrian crossways are controlled with signals, fewer businesses are impacted and it will better accommodate future growth.

 

The second concept was to do away with the Y all together and go with a more conventional intersection – the T intersection.  This was, at first, not the most favored suggestion as when the walk-about, er round-about option was first show, there were actually sighs in the meeting (I exaggerate not!).  However, after a few short minutes of the presentation, it became quite clear which one was way more practical.

I have to say, the round-about option certainly seemed more aesthetically pleasing to me, although I was not one of the people that sighed ;-).  The engineers from PBS&J, who work closely with Ben Faust of DRMP (in charge of pushing the Front Beach Road CRA forward) came up with a pretty good laundry list as to why the round-about option was less than favorable when compared to the more traditional T intersection:

  • Only allows for transit lane traveling in one direction – from west to east
    • In order for transit to travel from east to west, it would need to navigate the round-about
  • Pedestrian crossing not as safe as crossing points would not be signalized
  • No access management – there are several points of entry from exterior and lining businesses and access to the round about corridor wouldn’t be able to be easily managed
  • No dedicated bicycle lanes
  • Would not be able to adequately accommodate emergency vehicles
  • Would be quite a bit more expensive to construct
  • The construction time would be longer
  • The round about would effect more parcels

The result of the evening?  The board unanimously approved to move forward with the T-intersection concept.

So, many of you may be wondering what will happen to the existing businesses that are comfortably placed in the center of The Y.  Located there is a gas station and our beloved Joey’s on the Beach II.  When asked, I was given the response: “Well, it would be acquired.”

19 thoughts on “Will the Y Be Gone at HW 79 and FBR West PCB?

  1. OH BOY, this scares me…where in these drawings is ”JOEY’S II” ITALIAN RESTURANT??????? It took us 7 years to get him out here!!!

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    1. For right now George we are not going anywhere!! Our future may be unknown but be assured that we will continue to serve delicious New York style pizza and a full menu of Italian food until we are replace by a “round about”. All of us at Joeys II truly appreciate your support and the support of other Joey’s On The Beach II customers that make it possible for us to open our doors everyday ready to serve you.

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  2. For those who shop fuel at that gas station, I am one of them, this would be a great inconvenience and lost of savings. It’s the only place that I know who will accept discount from you Winn Dixie Card. Since I shop there regularly, I have save lots money over the year with that discount. I hate to loose that. Hopefully PCB would be kind enough to assist the station in a nearby location.

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  3. As far as the “Roundabout”, I personally think it would be very attractive to the area, with greeneries and flowers in the center and a statue of sun and pelicans, as an example. As far as pedestrians are concern, 1/4 mile is nothing. Most of them jaywalk anyway. Maybe you could have sidwalks added along the southside of Front Beach Road. Just a thought.

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  4. I agree with Bernard, I like the Roundabout, a quarter of a mile is nothing and may make us all healthier if we walked it. I would love to see a statue of sun and pelicans, or the Sun and Beachball pier park uses with flowers and greeneries.
    But what I want most is a well manicured well thought out plan for Front Beach Rd.

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  5. I think the round about would be much better. It would be a much more attractive way to end 79. It would show how much we are upgrading the Panama City Beach area.

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  6. Great to see progress coming to PCB. A new day. Kinda like the round about. And the comment that emergency vehicles could not navigate the round about….PLEASE!

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  7. I’m delighted to hear change is coming to that intersection as it is greatly needed. The Y is somewhat confusing, especially for first time visitors headed south on 79 at night as the west slip to meet Front Beach (between Chevron and the Post Office) isn’t well lit and is easy to miss. Also, having a gas station between forks in the road is dangerous. Too many vehicles coming in and out at the intersection.

    I find the typical T intersection to be so bland. The round-about option is much more asthetically pleasing and I agree with the Mayor’s suggestion to have a tastefull signature piece to welcome visitors headed to the beach via 79.

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  8. I like the idea of the roundabout. We could use it for advertising PCB in Great Britain. I would suggest putting park benches in the middle for our British visitors. I understand they get great amusement out of watching Americans navigate a roundabout.

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  9. I can’t see a traffic circle (politically incorrect jargon for “roundabout”) stuck in the middle Hwy 98. However, since the Y is a vestige of the old PCB, it clearly must be removed.

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  10. I can’t muster up any nostalgia for poor traffic patterns. Front Beach Road should be made more pedestrian friendly, and the main approaches to the beach need to be made attractive and welcoming. The Y is none of these things. It’s just an intersection, not an amusement park.

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  11. I love a roundabout–they work great in Europe–no stopping–traffic is always in motion–when in the roundabout, you have the right-of-way.

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  12. I am still amazed how Panama City Beach will fix or upgrade an area but totally ignore the fact that we have city streets where locals live that are being ignored. We still have unpaved dirt road all over the Thomas Drive side of the beach. When are we going to see some of this money the Government is spending. You want to make an area look good, then help the locals they are the ones spending the most money in our area and increase our property value!

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  13. I can’t tell from the drawing, but it looks as if there is only one lane going East. If so, a left turn onto Hwy. 79 will be very tough and will block all Eastbound traffic waiting on the one car to make a left turn. The new plan will not be as efficient as the current plan unless there is a left turn lane.

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