Beckrich Rd. Renamed Richard Jackson Boulevard

photo2At exactly 11:49 AM April 29th Mayor Gayle Oberst made the renaming of Beckrich Road to Richard Jackson Boulevard official, honoring the long time city manager Richard Jackson. Dozens of people were on hand, filling the parking lot outside of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce building to participate in the event. At one time, three of Panama City Beach’s most recent mayors (Oberst, Phillip Griffits, and Lee Sullivan) held the stage to honor Mr. Jackson, though honoring quickly turned into a lighthearted roast drawing applause and laughter thoughout.

Beckrich Road was renamed and revamped with a 9-million dollar roadway expansion from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. For many of Panama City Beach residents, myself included, the GAC managed overhaul of Beckrich has been nothing short of successful; the intersection runs smoother and is more aesthetic with sidewalks, tropical landscaping and upgraded underground utilities paid for with the beach’s community redevelopment area (CRA) money.

Panama City Beach City Manager since 1969, after humbly accepting the honor, Richard Jackson said, “I really appreciate all the nice things that have been said about me. It’s been a job, it’s a job I’ve enjoyed. I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s been an honor. I plan on sticking around for awhile.”

Mayor Oberst also gave a nod to a future Front Beach Road and Thomas drive project to be done through the CRA. This project will overhaul South Thomas (near Alvin’s Island) and go up to Front Beach Rd. where expansions and facelifts will go westward towards Richard Jackson Boulevard and East towards the Hutchison Intersection near Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Musuem.

Click here to read more about the Panama City Beach CRA.

Beckrich Road Opens New Lane

Working under the ever watchful eye of the warm sun, workers barely break a sweat in the mild 59 degree weather.  Clear blue skies with a light breeze make for perfect working conditions.

Recently new light posts have been installed along new sidewalks on Beckrich Road as part of the Community Redevelopment Area in Panama City Beach, also known as the CRA..  The posts are stylish and resemble something like what you would find in Stars Hollow, the sidewalks are concrete and whitish-grey in color and will one day very soon be walked on by the size 11 shoe of both tourists and locals alike.

Straining under the weight of the immense weight of the broken bits of road, a Caterpillar tractor lifts itself off the ground as the scoops grow larger and larger.  Heavy equipment has just gnarled the section of Beckrich that comes up to Back Beach Road in preparation for a new layer of hot smooth asphalt.

Sod has gone down, curbing is in place and bugs and other creeping things have a new home in the median vegetation that actually looks quite beautiful and refreshing.  Neat rows of palm trees add to the feel of modern sophistication Panama City Beach has for so long deserved.  No more power or phone lines either.  Sweet.

Workers labor diligently to get the new traffic lights installed at the intersection of Middle Beach  and Beckrich Road.  Panama City Beach Police Department employees have been directing traffic all morning.  “It’s pretty dangerous out here.  We almost get hit every now and then, ” one officer didn’t tell me earlier.

Starting today, northbound traffic on Beckrich used the newly paved lane with the southbound traffic using the same lane as was used last week.  Still only two lanes of traffic traverse the route.  The entrance to Edgewater Shopping Plaza was a mud pit as recently as last week, but now it is silky smooth pavement.

Construction should be totally complete in two months.

Beckrich Road CRA Update

I know what you are thinking – what’s this rubbish.  Why is jason posting pictures of plantlife, is he going all botanical and what-not?  This my friend is a picture of the new shrubbery planted in the median of Beckrich Road.  That’s right, they have plantlife in the median.  Panama City Beach is moving on up in this world.

Started in September 2007, the Beckrich Road portion of the CRA is coming closer to completion each day.  On schedule to be done by May, landscaping is being installed and final measures are taking place on the original, yet newly rehashed side of the road.

The final product will be four lanes of landscaped, medianed, sidewalked, street lamped roadway extending from Back Beach Road to Front Beach Road going through the intersection of Middle Beach Road or Hutchison Boulevard.  All existing underground utilities were replaced and all electrical utilities were moved underground.

The east side of the stretch of Beckrich south of Middle Beach Road is dirt right now with preparations being made for paving.

This is what we can expect all of the main travel coridors of Panama City Beach to look like.  All along Front Beach Road, the power and phone lines will be moved underground, the street will be widened and sidewalks and landscaping will be installed along the sides.

CRA Moving Forward – Construction Update

The Front Beach Road CRA is making great progress with the current project and is planning and preparing for the next segment in the rebuilding of our tourist transportation corridor.

The Beckrich Road project, started in September of 2007 is right on schedule.  Just last week traffic was switched to the newly paved portion of the road so that crews can begin the reconstruction of the original treaded path.  Part of the process will include bringing it up to grade, repaving and curbing.  The entire project, including street-side lighting, sidewalks, and landscaping will be complete by May of 2009.

The next phase of the CRA will be the South Thomas Drive area, including the road that travels past Boardwalk, past Pineapple Willies and dead-ends at Laketown Wharf and Shores of Panama.  If you haven’t traveled down this road in a while, then you don’t know just how bad this road really is.  This stretch of pavement looks like it was laid during colonial times, probably at least 250 years old – sarcasm.

This particular part of the CRA is unique in that there isn’t enough room to expand the roadway as much as some of the other areas.  However, the final product will have two full size traffic lanes, a middle turn lane and a west-bound tram lane that will double as an expanded bike pathway.  Sidewalks, lighting and landscaping will be on both sides, and the final product will be beautiful and pedistrian friendly.

The planning is almost complete, and the right of way land is nearly all purchased, but construction funding is yet to be in place.  With roughly $10 million in the bank, Ben Faust of DRMP, the engineering firm overseaing the CRA operation, said they still need to raise another $20 million to fund construction and purchase right of way land for the next phase of the CRA that will cover Front Beach Road, from Walmart past Bechrich Road.

“Even in light of the current financial situation, we should still be able to raise the money we need through bond sales,” said Faust.  If everything goes as planned, the South Thomas section will be advertised for bid first quarter of 2009 with a prjected start time sometime next summer.  Total construction time should be around 24 months.

The next section of the CRA – Front Beach Road, from Walmart past Beckrich should begin construction summer of 2010.

Beckrich Road CRA – New Side Paved!

The Beckrich Road portion of the CRA is making huge strides in progress. The new side was paved this week and curb work was installed. I think we’ll be driving on it in the next couple of weeks as they redo the old side.

The groundbreaking for the Beckrich Road portion of the Front Beach Road CRA in Panama City Beach was on September 4th, 2007. Total construction time is expected to be less than 24 months. The cost of construction is around $10 million and includes Beckrich Road from Back Beach Road to Front Beach Road.

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