Courtesy Pensacola News Journal
Editorial: Save Milton’s historic assets
When possible, state and local governments should do all they can to save historic landmarks — especially when they remain useful.
Such is the case with the Marquis Bayou bridge on U.S. 90 outside Milton. The Main Street Milton organization is leading the charge to save it — perhaps as a bicycle/pedestrian link between the town and the coming restoration of historic Old Highway 90 — and the Florida Department of Transportation should listen.
More troubling than the bridge situation is the intimation that DOT is still considering a short-sighted, destructive plan to widen U.S. 90 to four lanes through the heart of historic downtown Milton.
The better idea — and yes, it is more expensive — is a southern bypass that would take through-traffic and, especially, large trucks south of the city center. It would not only make downtown quieter and more pedestrian friendly, it would allow Milton to capitalize on its stock of historic buildings, especially near the waterfront.
Unfortunately, four-laning U.S. 90 through downtown would require sacrificing some of those buildings. That makes no sense in an era when urban planners consider historic buildings a prime asset that can be used to create attractive, people-friendly downtowns with character.
Despite the early settlement of this area, in terms of existing buildings, “historic” doesn’t go back very far. Keeping Milton’s oldest buildings alive should be a city priority.
Just like Pensacola, Milton can recreate a strong downtown that can draw people. It has already taken steps to develop its public riverfront, and has been tantalizingly close in recent years to getting complementary private development on the river.
Four-laning U.S. 90 through downtown would be like sticking a dagger in the heart of these redevelopment assets.
It is easier to avoid such a mistake than to try to recover from making it. Just as saving the Marquis Bayou bridge will pay off in the future for a better Milton.