Rich in history, origins of the city date back to 1559 as a Spanish colonial settlement. The five flags nickname acknowledges the flags of Spain, France, Britain, and the Confederacy, all having once flown over the area.
Also known as the “Birthplace of Naval Aviation”, the Pensacola area is home to Pensacola Naval Air Station and a variety of outlying fields and training centers. The military represents a major aspect of the area economy, followed by tourism associated with the city, Fort Pickens, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. Pensacola is also home to the University of West Florida (UWF) and the Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos Minor League Baseball team.
Hurricanes have also played a major role in the history of Pensacola, especially since 1995. Hurricane Erin made a direct landfall that summer, followed by Opal coming ashore at Fort Walton Beach in October of that year. Both caused significant damage in the area. Hurricane Ivan further impacted the Emerald Coast, with its eye wall crossing Pensacola on September 17, 2004. Sanders Beach was especially hard hit with several blocks of residences, along with a community center wiped out. Many area roads were washed out and several sections of the Escambia Bay Bridges along Interstate 10 were toppled. Details on the aftermath can be found on the Hurricane Ivan highway guide.
Interstate 10 passes by the city of Pensacola to the north near Ferry Pass. The freeway expands to six-lane east from U.S. 29 (Exit 10) to State Road 291 (Exit 13), with expansion east to the Escambia Bay Bridges completed in spring 2018. Speed limits are set at 70 miles per along the route west of Exit 10 and east of Exit 13, and 60 mph in between. Widening of I-10 east to SR 281 (Exit 22) is underway through 2018.
Work commenced on Interstate 10 across Escambia County in 1962. Completion of the route eastward from the Alabama state line to State Road 87 (Exit 31) occurred in 1967.
All original concrete along Interstate 10 was paved over with asphalt by 1998. Repaving coincided with a bridge rehabilitation project of all overpasses along the freeway in the mid-1990s.
New weigh stations were constructed between the Alabama state line and Exit 5 in the early 2000s. An agricultural inspection station replaced the abandoned welcome center near the Perdido River in 2006.
Road work involving the reconstruction of Exits 12 (Interstate 110) and 13 (State Road 291) ran between 2003 and 2008. The original trumpet interchange between Interstates 10 and 110 was rebuilt with flyovers separating movements from the adjacent folded-diamond interchange with SR 291 (Davis Highway). I-10 was widened to six lanes through to U.S. 29 during this project.
Hurricane Ivan brought a fast end to the life span of the 1967-built bridges for I-10 across Escambia Bay. Storm surge toppled many bridge segments and shifted others out of alignment. Fast-tracked work replaced the ailing spans on December 19, 2006, with the opening of the first of two bridges. Work continued until a second three-lane bridge opened December 12, 2007.
High mast lighting was added at the interchanges for Exit 28 (Santa Rosa County 89) and Exit 26 (Santa Rosa County 191) in 2010. Dynamic message boards and travel times were added to Interstate 10 in 2011.
Interstate 110 is the lone branch route for I-10 in Florida. Traveling 6.39 miles, the freeway joins Downtown Pensacola with Interstate 10 near Ferry Pass and Brent. The freeway carries six lanes north of Exit 3 (Maxwell/Jordan Streets) and four lanes on a set of viaducts between Exit 3 and the southern terminus.
Interstate 110 was proposed from Interstate 10 to the Pensacola city line until 1968 when proposals extended the route southward to Maxwell Street. Opening of the route between Exits 3 and 6 occurred in 1969. Work on the viaduct did not wrap up until 1978 when the elevated highway between Gregory Street (U.S. 98 Business) and Maxwell Street opened.
Signs along Interstate 110 were replaced in 1996. Work followed in 2003 as part of the I-10-110 Interchange project to both reconstruct the trumpet interchange at the north end and expand the ground-level freeway to six lanes. Flyovers were added at Interstate 10 to separate movements to adjacent Florida 291. The diamond interchange at Florida 296 (Exit 5) was expanded. Exit 4 with Florida 295 was also redesigned to include new northbound ramps with adjacent Davis Highway. This work ended in 2008.
A new interchange joined Interstate 110 with Airport Boulevard as part of an expanded Exit 5 in 2009. Forming a split-diamond interchange, the ramps with Airport Boulevard tie into those on the north side of Brent Lane. Variable message signs and travel times were added to the freeway in 2011.
Talks surrounded the possibility of extending Interstate 110 north to Nine Mile Road (U.S. 90 Alternate) as a toll road. It was thought that an extension of the route northward would alleviate traffic concerns along Florida 291 (Davis Highway) and University Parkway and aid in hurricane evacuation. Proposals were discontinued in 2000, and due to funding issues, no projects to extend Interstate 110 were further advanced. Another long range proposal touted by the West Florida Regional Planning Commission focuses on connecting Pensacola with Interstate 65 with a limited access highway.
A story posted in the Pensacola News Journal during December 2001 covered plans for a replacement of the 1960-built Pensacola Bay Bridge (U.S. 98), an upgrade of the span to six lanes, or the construction of a companion span. The current bridge carries just four lanes with a 45 mph speed limit and limited shoulders. With growing development along U.S. 98 on Santa Rosa Island, and in the Gulf Breeze vicinity, the need for increased traffic capacity for commuters, tourist traffic and hurricane evacuations increased throughout the first decade of the millennium. Scenarios outlined in 2001 included the possibility of upgrading the section of Gregory Street to the Pensacola Bay Bridge to limited access standards. This might have included an extension of Interstate 110.
Palafox Hwy / Pensacola Blvd / Century Blvd
U.S. 29 is the main north-south corridor in Escambia County. The U.S. route begins at U.S. 90 & 98 (Cervantes Street), opposite Palafox Place outside Downtown Pensacola. Angling northwest along the west side of Pensacola, U.S. 29 expands into a six lane, commercialized arterial along Pensacola Boulevard through to Interstate 10. Further expansion of the route is underway north to the diamond interchange with U.S. 90 Alternate (Nine Mile Road) through 2019.
Beyond Gonzalez and other suburbs of Pensacola, U.S. 29 reaches the industrial areas of Cantonment en route to open farm land and rolling hills in northern Escambia County. The highway widens to a divided highway with a 65 mph speed limit, staying west of Molino through to the town of Century. Once in Century, the highway transitions into a five-lane arterial (Century Boulevard) with a 35 mph speed limit through to the Alabama state line.
U.S. 29 south from U.S. 31 in Flomaton, Alabama replaced the original route of U.S. 331. The change was made in 1934.
U.S. 29 was widened from two to four lanes from County Road 4A (Bluff Springs Road) to State Line Road in 1987, and from four to six lanes from Broad Street to Florida 296 (Brent Lane) in 1998.
Mobile Hwy / Cerventes St / Scenic Hwy
Known as Old Spanish Trail, U.S. 90 parallels Interstate 10 throughout most of northern Florida. An exception occurs in the Pensacola area, where U.S. 90 Alternate takes the direct route north of the city while U.S. 90 loops southward into Pensacola along Mobile Highway, Cerventes Street and Scenic Highway. State Road 10, the counterpart to U.S. 90 throughout Florida, diverges from the parent route to run along side U.S. 90 Alternate (Nine Mile Road).
The routing of U.S. 90 west to Mobile and New Orleans opened first as part of the Spanish Trail. Completion of the highway eastward followed in April 1929.
Crossing from Seminole, Alabama, U.S. 90 winds eastward from wetland areas along the Perdido River to a rural split with U.S. 90 Alternate at Beulah. Mobile Highway carries the route southeastward to built up areas at Bellview, West Pensacola and Brownsville. Upon enter the city of Pensacola, U.S. 90 follows Cerventes Street through to an overlap with U.S. 98 at Pace Boulevard (Florida 292). The two continue east to 9th Avenue (Florida 289).
U.S. 98 travels southward across Pensacola Bay while U.S. 90 straddles western reaches of Escambia Bay along Scenic Highway. The US route exits Escambia County along a causeway leading to Pea Ridge in Santa Rosa County. The four-lane divided highway continues as a busy commercial arterial from Pace to Milton.
Scenic Highway, the name of U.S. 90 from Cerventes Street near Bayou Texar to Nine Mile Road, was designated the “Florida Scenic Bay Bluffs Highway” in 1998. The bridge over Bayou Texar was rebuilt in 2000. Traffic lights were added at the interchange with Interstate 10 in 2004 and the intersection with Florida 742 in 2005.
Nine Mile Road
U.S. 90 Alternate bypasses the city of Pensacola to the north along Nine Mile Road. The highway was the through-route for the area until the completion of Interstate 10. Doubling as both a commuter route and commercial arterial between the Ferry Pass and Gonzalez communities, U.S. 90 Alternate serves the University of West Florida campus as well. The 13-mile roadway derives its naming convention from its position nine miles north of Downtown Pensacola.
Lillian Hwy / Navy Blvd / Pensacola Bay Bridge
Known as the Lillian Highway as it crosses the Perdido River from Baldwin County and Lillian, Alabama, U.S. 98 carries two lanes through to Florida 173 (Blue Angel Parkway). A variety of wetlands, tree stands, mobile home parks, fast food restaurants and strip malls line the route through to the Navy Aerospace Regional Medical Center and Navy Mall. Four-laning of the road between Florida 173 and Navy Boulevard (Florida 295) was completed by 2002.
A short overlap with SR 295 (Navy Boulevard) takes U.S. 98 north outside Warrington, and north of Pensacola Naval Air Station. U.S. 98 continues Navy Boulevard eastward from State Road 295 to Pace Boulevard in Pensacola, where it splits with U.S. 98 Business (Garden Street). Garden Street ventures eastward through Downtown while U.S. 98 bypasses the central business district via Pace Boulevard (SR 292) north, Cerventes Street (U.S. 90) east, and Ninth Avenue (SR 289) south.
U.S. 98 resumes an eastward course from Ninth Avenue by the Pensacola Bayfront Center, utilizing a one-way street couplet of Gregory Street (west) and Chase Street (east). The pair converge at Bayfront Park and the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a three-mile span built in 1960 between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.
With just four lanes, the drive to Gulf Breeze over Pensacola Bay is often congested. Drivers must slow from 45 to 35 mph upon entering Gulf Breeze, though a lane is gained in each direction through to State Road 399. Three traffic lights slow travel, including a photo-enforced signal (reactivated in March 2011) at Shoreline Drive.
East of Gulf Breeze, U.S. 98 bisects the Naval Live Oaks Unit of Gulf Islands National Seashore, the only undeveloped stretch of highway through to Okaloosa Island. Speed limits vary between 45 and 55 mph and frontage consists of subdivision entrances, strip malls, fast food eateries, and RV parks.
Origins of U.S. 98 in Florida date back to 1926 with the formation of the Gulf Coast Highway Association. The group touted a direct route along the Gulf Coast, following the coastline from Pensacola to Panama City, and across St. Andrews Bay at either Redfish Point or Long Point. The route of U.S. 98 was completed through Panama City in 1929, and overall along the Panhandle coast, with the completion of the Phillips Inlet Bridge, in 1935. Signing of the route took place in 1934. Some 1930s maps showed a temporary U.S. 98 alignment utilizing present-day Florida 87 from Navarre northward to Milton.
U.S. 98 ended in Pensacola until 1955. During that time, the route was relocated from the end point at 17th Avenue and Cerventes Street (U.S. 90) west along Garden Street to Navy Boulevard and Lillian Highway to Alabama and ultimately Natchez, Mississippi.
Hurricane Ivan destroyed the “world’s longest fishing pier” along side the Pensacola Bay Bridge in September 2004 by knocking over several of the span segments. The piers were sections retained from the original U.S. 98 toll bridge.
The northern pier was replaced by a newer, albeit much shorter, structure in 2009. The southern pier was finally dismantled in 2011 without a replacement.
New Pensacola Bay Bridge
Costing $398.5 million, construction underway through 2019 builds a pair of six-lane bridges across Pensacola Bay. The new spans will be both higher and wider than their predecessors. The first span will open with two-way traffic in fall 2018. The second span opens the following year, with the addition of a 10 foot wide multi-use path. Both bridges will accommodate 12 foot travel lanes with 10 foot shoulders.
U.S. 98 Business represents the historic routing of U.S. 98 through Downtown Pensacola. The route follows Garden Street east from Pace and Navy Boulevards to Alcaniz Street and the stack interchange with Interstate 110. Gregory Street (west) and Chase Street (east) encircle Pensacola Bayfront Center between Alcaniz Street and U.S. 98 (Ninth Avenue).
Florida 30, the state road designation of U.S. 98 throughout most of Florida, remains with U.S. 98 Business. U.S. 98 shifted from Garden Street to Cerventes Street in 1981.
There are a number of state roads in Escambia County, but just a handful in Santa Rosa County. With some exceptions, the highways generally fit within the Florida route clustering system in the 289-298 stratum.
|Highway||South/West End||North/East End||Mileage|
|4||U.S. 29 – Century||U.S. 90 – near Crestview||43.75|
|8||Alabama State line||Interstate 95 – Jacksonville||372.26|
|8A||U.S. 98 & 98 Business – Pensacola||Interstate 110 – Ferry Pass||6.94|
|10||Alabama State Line||Florida A1A – Atlantic Beach||393.48|
|10A||U.S. 90 Alternate – near Alabama State Line||U.S. 90 Alternate – north of Pensacola||26.98|
|30||Alabama State Line||U.S. 19-27A-98-221 – Perry||287.60|
|87||U.S. 98 – Navarre||Alabama 49 – Alabama State Line||47.13|
|89||U.S. 90 – Milton||Alabama State line||29.44|
|95||U.S. 90 & 98 – Pensacola||Alabama 113 – Alabama State Line||43.66|
|97||Escambia County 95A – north of Molino||Alabama 21 – Alabama State Line||22.65|
|173||Escambia County 297 – Pensacola Naval Air Station||Florida 297 – north of Bellview||12.71|
|196||Main & Palafox Streets – downtown Pensacola||U.S. 98 – east of downtown Pensacola||1.02|
|281||U.S. 98 – Santa Rosa Island||U.S. 90 – Milton||10.74|
|289||U.S. 90 & 98 – Pensacola||Florida 290 – northern Pensacola||7.28|
|290||Escambia County 95A – Ensley||U.S. 90 – north of Pensacola|
|291||U.S. 90 & 98 – Pensacola||U.S. 90 Alternate – north of Ferry Pass||11.22|
|292||Alabama 182 – Alabama State Line||U.S. 98 – northwest of Pensacola||24.75|
|294||Florida 295 – New Warrington||U.S. 98 – New Warrington||0.22|
|295||Pensacola Naval Air Station||Florida 289 – Pensacola||8.36|
|296||U.S. 90 – Bellview||U.S. 90 – Pensacola||9.66|
|297||U.S. 90 – Bellview||U.S. 90 Alternate – west of Ensley||4.38|
|298||U.S. 98 – west of Myrtle Grove||Florida 295 – West Pensacola||6.81|
|399||U.S. 98 – Gulf Breeze||U.S. 98 – Navarre||0.28|
|727||Florida 292 – west of Warrington||Florida 295 – West Pensacola||6.83|
|742||U.S. 29 – northwest of Pensacola||U.S. 90 – Pensacola||8.28|
|750||U.S. 29 – near Brent||12th Avenue – Pensacola Int’l Airport||3.273|
|752||Florida 295 – Pensacola||Florida 289 – Pensacola||1.19|
The County Road system in Florida took over for the State Secondary Road system in 1977. Most secondary highways were turned over to county jurisdictions and resigned with the standard pentagon marker, while a few others were upgraded fully to state roads.
Many county road numbers are replicated throughout their respective counties. Santa Rosa County sees five different Route 399’s for instance. In an effort to avoid confusion, some counties renumbered duplicated segments. Bay and Leon chose to renumber replicated county roads as four-digit routes, while others such as Escambia opted for numbers that fell outside the customary geographical route clustering. Within the Pensacola area, Florida State Roads 727, 750, and 752 and County Roads 443, 453 are some examples.
County Roads Guides
Page Updated February 25, 2018.