Grand Lagoon Bridge Opens TODAY!!

Ok, so it’s actually not quite as dramatic as the headline, but the new Grand Lagoon Bridge roadway is set to transfer traffic to the new bridge today.  Construction is set to be complete by mid summer, and they are goaled at having the temporary bridge out of the way by then.

They started construction on the bridge back in October of 2009 and have largely stayed on schedule for the duration of the project.

The new bridge is 18 feet at it’s center, up from 10 feet on the previous bridge.  This huge for local Grand Lagoon residents since it not only opens up the lagoon for better circulation, it also allows larger boats to pass under it.

The bridge was funded by grants and the 2009 Economic Stimulus Fund.

Grand Lagoon Bridge Update [PICS]

Having broken ground almost 17 months ago, the Grand Lagoon Bridge is getting closer to completion every day.  The old bridge was a low restrictive thing offering a measly 10 foot clearance.  The new bridge will almost double that with a towering 18 feet of clearance.

Here are 5 fantastic facts on the new bridge which should be complete just before summertime.

Continue reading “Grand Lagoon Bridge Update [PICS]”

An Update on Grand Lagoon Construction

Since the groundbreaking ceremony back in October 2009, work on the Grand Lagoon Bridge and the surrounding area has been going exactly to plan. The 18 month project is right on track, and set for completion in April 2011. This is great news, especially as traffic problems due to the construction have been minimal, and overall vehicles are flowing well through the area with little to no delays. A new turn lane that has been put in place at the Curve is helping the situation immensely, and the City and County are working together to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Continue reading “An Update on Grand Lagoon Construction”

Grand Lagoon Bridge Construction Update

The new Grand Lagoon Bridge in Eastern Panama City Beach is sure to light up in activity soon.  Recently they planted new utility poles to the west of the existing bridge and moved the utility lines from the old poles adjoining the existing bridge to the new poles.  Last time I was out there (about two weeks ago) they had moved the power, but cable and phone lines had yet to be moved.  That looks like it is all complete now.

Continue reading “Grand Lagoon Bridge Construction Update”

New Grand Lagoon Bridge Ground Breaking

With gold shovels in hand and orange hard-hats protecting their heads from the deep blue skies, several big names from Panama City Beach, Bay County and the State of Florida broke ground on the construction of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge and its accompanying roadway on the north and south side of the structure.  Years in the planning, the Grand Lagoon Bridge was literally a pipe dream until just recently.  Today, in discussion with several people from the Friends of Grand Lagoon, I was told that for a long time, it wasn’t believed that it would ever happen.

Continue reading “New Grand Lagoon Bridge Ground Breaking”

Grand Lagoon Bridge Ground Breaking Thursday

Bring your cameras and your congrats for the ground breaking ceremony of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge takes place Thursday morning at 10 am.  The weather is sure to be perfect and the future holds a higher bridge that will accept taller boats and more water under its spans.

In the works for quite some time now, the new Grand Lagoon Bridge finally got the green light when funding was secured over the summer.  With over $15 million in the bank the County Comission awarded the construction contract to C. W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.

The ground breaking takes place at 10 am sharp on October 1, 2009 at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant in the Captain’s Room.

High Toxicity and Turbidity in Grand Lagoon: Remedy

With toxicity and turbidity levels higher than many feel comfortable with in Grand Lagoon, The Friends of Grand Lagoon are discussing the possibility of changing the water out about every 20 days.  How to tackle this great task you ask?  By bringing fresh gulf water into the most western portion of the lagoon at the rate of 50,000 gallons per minute.

Last night I attended a regular Friends of Grand Lagoon meeting with a guest presenter from the City of Destin.  Discussion on the table began with a study presentation of the turbidity and toxicity levels in Grand Lagoon that resulted in the Ecotoxicologist (not even in my spell check library) presenting making the statement when asked, “I would probably choose not to eat my catch from that body of water.”

Many asked if there was any indication as to how much toxicity had come from the sewage spill that resulted from a City of Panama City Beach lift station failure early this year.  The presenter had no answer but indicated that the spill could have had something to do with it.  However, he stressed the main problem was that the more deep you move into the lagoon, the less likely it is that the water there has been cycled out with new water.  Much of it is stagnant and as remarked by a waterfront resident to myself halfway through the evening, “my backyard is a cesspool.”

Well, it should come as no surprise that if we are having an issue with something in Panama City Beach, so might others be having (or had) the same issue.  The City of Destin battled this very issue in years past (like more than a decade, although I was unclear how long exactly they had been doing this), and they found the solution to be quite effective.  They had gone through some trials and a few errors, but the final result seems to work quite well, indeed.

The solution is to burry a huge pipe and run it under the road and developments, 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.  The land-side of the pipe would be hooked up to a small building that housed electronic monitoring equipment and a 150 hp electric motor that would pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the stagnant side of Grand Lagoon every hour.  In Destin, they mostly run the pump at night, during low peak electric time to keep the system efficient and have worked up a system over the years to produce barely any noise at all.  In fact, the presenter mentioned that they haven’t received a complaint on the noise in he-didn’t-know-how-long.

So, this is an awesome idea, but who pays for it?  Nobody knew.  Some talk about employing a grant-writer was tossed around, but then the question came up: who’s land is the facility housed on?  The City’s?  The County’s?  Some willing or perhaps absent private citizen?  It was remarked that to even talk to a grant-writer, they would need three times as much as what they have available in their checking account.  Donations anyone?

Last night was talk about an issue that needed a solution.  The solution seems apparent, but the means by which to get there is still very cloudy.  This was actually the first meeting discussed about this particular project indicating that there will be plenty more, and also indicating that at this time, the pipe project is not much more than a pipe dream.

On a side note, no formal discussion was made of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge, but it was remarked to me at some point in the evening that the ground breaking would take place before the end of the month.

Construction Contract Awarded for New Grand Lagoon Bridge

These are exciting times, exciting times indeed.  I can remember just a few short years ago attending a meeting about the Grand Lagoon Bridge reconstruction and seeing the cool plans, dreaming of a time when larger boats and more traffic could traverse the area, knowing it was all just hopeful aspirations.  The plans had been in the works for years, but funding for the project was a pipe-dream, until just recently.

As quoted from our previous post on the new Grand Lagoon Bridge:

“Currently, Bay County has $19,462,409 to fund this project with $5,629,822 from local stimulus funds, $9,299,990 from state stimulus funds and $4,532,597 from grants that Bay County has been working on for years.  Based on the cost estimate, Bay County has all the money necessary to fund the entire project.”

As of today, the Bay County Commissioners have awarded the construction contract of the Grand Lagoon Bridge Replacement and Roadway Widening to C. W. Roberts Contracting, Inc for $14,833,745.75.  In addition, the Bay County Commissioners awarded the Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) contract for the Grand Lagoon Bridge Replacement and Roadway Widening Project to Metric Engineering, Inc. for $1,389,992.00.

Construction has been planned to start soon after Labor Day, beginning with the construction of a temporary bridge and the demolition of the existing structure.  You can bet I’ll be there. 

Top 9 Things to Know About the New Grand Lagoon Bridge


If you’re familiar with the Panama City Beach area then you know that the beautiful (sarcasm), yet archaic Grand Lagoon Bridge is and has been badly in need of replacement.  Having been built in the 50’s, it is time to be out with the old and in with the new.  The planning has been in the works for years, but funding has always been the question.  So, thanks to some stimulus funds, we’re good to go.  Here are the top 9 things to know about the new Grand Lagoon Bridge, and the construction process.

  • New bridge construction will begin sometime in September.  Bids for construction just went out last week and are due in July 31, 2009, and I was told that construction is expected to begin within 4 to 6 weeks of final bids in.  This seems a little aggressive to me, but if everything falls in place, these timelines should stay intact.
  • Access over Grand Lagoon will remain intact throughout the duration of the construction of the new bridge.  They will actually erect a temporary bridge to the west of the existing bridge which is expected to take 1 to 2 months.  When the temporary bridge is up, they’ll switch traffic and demo the existing bridge (hopefully I’ll be there for that!)
  • Total construction time of the new bridge is expected to be around 18 months.  This time frame includes construction of the temporary bridge and the widening of Thomas Drive from North Lagoon Drive to the bridge, then from the bridge south to Bristol Street, which is around the curve – sweet!
  • The estimated cost of the entire project (bridge and Thomas Drive widening) is around $18.5 million.  Currently, Bay County has $19,462,409 to fund this project with $5,629,822 from local stimulus funds, $9,299,990 from state stimulus funds and $4,532,597 from grants that Bay County has been working on for years.  Based on the cost estimate, Bay County has all the money necesary to fund the entire project.
  • The new bridge will be 4 lanes total, two lanes of traffic traveling each direction and will stretch 250 feet across Grand Lagoon over three span structures.  Each span will be 83 feet 4 inches long.  In addition, on the outside of the lanes traveling in each direction will be a bicycle lane and pedestrian walkway.  The automobile lanes will be 12 feet in width, the bicycle lanes will be 5 foot 6 inches, and the pedestrian walkways will be 6 feet.  The total width of the new bridge will be 73 feet 6 inches, including 2 feet and 6 inches of outside barrier. The existing bridge is only 10 feet above the water, severely limiting the boat size that has access to the residential section of Grand Lagoon.  However, the new bridge will rest 18 feet above the water.
  • Right now, Bay County is considering walkways to accommodate fishing and other recreational activities under the bridge both on the north and south side of the lagoon.  I’m unsure at this time if the existing funding in place could cover this cost, or if it would be in addition to.  I would think this should be included in everything.
  • The existing roadway that feeds the north and south side of the Grand Lagoon Bridge is only 2 lanes with a center turn lane, but the new wider roadway will be 5 lanes total.  With four 11 foot lanes and a 12 foot center turn lane, the new widened section of Thomas Drive will also include bicycle and pedestrian walkways, to continue the ease of passage for business foot commuters and bicyclers alike from the bridge.
  • The bridge will remain open to marine traffic for the duration of construction, with the exception for when the new spans are installed for the new bridge.  At that time, the waterway closure will be coordinated with the US Coast Guard and local commercial marine businesses.  Once the new bridge is complete, the waterway opening will increase to 218 feet with the maximum navigational width between the center span increasing to 72 feet 4 inches.
  • The existing bridge structure was built originally in 1952 and sustained damage in 1995 during hurricane Opal.  It has been cited to have irrepairable damage and is badly in need of replacement.  Right now, the bridge is a 6 span structure that is 150 feet wide.