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Public Input Sought on How to Widen US 90 in Milton

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Florida DOT
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Representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation will be in Milton Tuesday night, to unveil proposals for fixing the bottleneck on U.S. 90 in downtown Milton. But, not everyone’s on board.

Four plans are on the table, says F-DOT’s Ian Satter, who adds that this is but one of several expansion projects across the district.

“One is keeping the current U.S. 90 alignment and widening through downtown,” said Satter. “Another concept is a bypass south of U.S. 90. Another one is kind of similar to the bypass on 90, but would begin in a different area. And another segment we’re looking at is more of a northerly approach, [with] two lanes in one direction and one lane in the reverse direction.”

The area under study extends about six miles -- from the intersection of U-S 90 and Glover Lane, to the intersection of State Road 87-S and U-S 90. The study also addresses the need for more bicycle paths and sidewalks, in connection with the Blackwater River Heritage Trail and the S-R One Historic Trail – the latter paralleling much of U.S. 90.

“Unfortunately, we see all of the four routes as bad for the Historic District,” said Vernon Compton, President of the Santa Rosa Historical Society.

An alternative that Compton and the Historical Society favor – which is not part of the F-DOT proposals – is another route that’s considered the least impactful for all concerned.

“It’s a true southern route – some would call it an alternate or truck route,” said Compton. “It would join up with other infrastructure already in place, like old Highway 90, then cross the Blackwater River and connect with roads on the east side of Milton that are already in place.”

Their route, says Compton, takes into consideration more of the entire planning area, rather than F-DOT’s four proposals which impact historic resources. He adds that in downtown Milton, there’s not a lot of space for widening 90.

The Project Development and Environment – or PD&E Study -- still has about two and a half years until complete. In the meantime, F-DOT invites public input, such as tonight in Milton. If all goes as planned, another public meeting will be held in 2017 on the agency’s preferred alternative, with a final design possible in 2018.

And even then the matter may not be settled. If the selected plan fails to comply with federal and state law in the eyes of the historical district supporters, there could be some lawyers warming up in the bullpen.

“By federal law, you really have to show that you have considered all alternatives,” Compton said. “This is one of those difficult areas, because you’re going through an urban area [with] a small, historic downtown.”

The meeting kicks off Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Santa Rosa County Auditorium, on Spikes Way in Milton.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.