The Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization is in the early stages to redesign West Cervantes Street through the historic Brownsville community west of downtown Pensacola, with a mission to make the busy traffic corridor more walkable and bicycle-friendly.
The plan, officially titled the West Cervantes Street Corridor Management Plan, could include building new walking paths and bike lanes down West Cervantes Street through Pensacola’s Brownsville community. The organization plans on making the vehicle traffic lanes narrower to make room for bike lanes on the street and more landscaping of the corridor, which was widened in the mid-20th century prior to the completion of major highways and Interstate 10 and I-110.
During the first half of the 20th century, Brownsville was home to a variety of successful family owned and operated business enterprises, and served as the gateway to Mobile, Ala. via Mobile Highway long before Interstate 10 and I-110 were constructed.
Beginning in the late 1950s and through the 1980s, Brownsville began its decline as whites moved to the suburbs in the wake of the repeal of the segregationist Jim Crows laws in the mid-20th century. With the advent of shopping malls dotting suburban Pensacola and the opening of the interstate highway system, Brownsville stores were forced to close, drawing most neighborhood residents away.
While traffic through the West Cervantes Corridor has declined significantly in the last several decades, the wide roadway has remained unchanged.
The plans for the corridor were adopted last year by the TPO following an extensive public input period that involved asking Pensacolians what they sought as part of a redesigned traffic corridor that spans from Green Street near the western gateway entrance to Brownsville to A Street near the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood.
Among the proposed changes are constructing new bike lanes, new medians with landscaping, wider sidewalks, new street lighting, and new pedestrian crosswalks. Officials said the project could eventually lead to redevelopment of vacant buildings and properties within the historic neighborhood.
The planning organization said the project is still in the early planning stages, and while funding of the project has not been secured, the TPO plans to adopt the project as part of its long-range needs plan.
Two public workshops will be held on Monday, November 13 at Pensacola City Hall at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to discuss and solicit public input for the addition of the West Cervantes Street road diet to the Long Range Transportation (LRTP) Needs Plan.