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Captain Obvious

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Everything posted by Captain Obvious

  1. Fantastic work Cotuit!! I actually threw together the development map for Jacksonville, but it's not nearly as comprehensive as the one you've done for Prov! Two comments and a question .... - How did you insert the images into the tabs like that? - Brown just annouced that they are going to build a new fitness center on hope street - in front of the current gym, where the surface parking lot is. I think it will be a 3 story glass structure called the J. Nelson fitness center. I hadn't noticed that mentioned in the forums, but it might be a good addition to the map. - The providence map's default zoom level is really far out when it displays on UP. You can automatically make it display a "city" level shot by manually zooming the map to where you want it, and clicking the "save center, zoom" button.
  2. I wanted to start a general thread for discussion about Commuter Rail. I think many of us have expressed the opinion that Commuter Rail is superior to (and cheaper than!) BRT. Here's a great letter to the editor from 11/15 ... -------------------------------------------------------- TRANSIT Use railroad lines Recently you published an article on the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's choice for bus rapid transit in lieu of the "more expensive" light rail system. Oddly enough, the best choice for commuter service was not mentioned. The map shows two routes being considered: Along Phillips Highway and along Roosevelt Boulevard. These two streets parallel two active railroad lines that could be used with a minimum of land acquisition and environmental effects. Rep. John Mica, R-Orlando, has successfully proposed the funding of a commuter train in the Orlando area using the same line as exists along Jacksonville's Roosevelt Boulevard. Service on this line could be extended to St. Augustine. Nashville is presently building a commuter line using an existing right of way. The train will be operational in the near future. Just as the grandiose high-speed rail plan was wisely defeated by the voters when improved Amtrak service is what is needed, the bus plan should be shelved in favor of commuter rail using improved existing facilities. GEORGE BOLLINGER, transportation consultant, Jacksonville
  3. Well, I agree with Jeafl. He has every right to come onto this forum and post nothing but negative opinions. He shouldn't be banned for that. Nor is there anything wrong with being argumentative ... lord knows I've probably started an argument with half the people who post in the Jax forum. But overall, it's all in good fun... However, there is a distinct line between being negative and being disruptive (like if someone continuously posts comments that are remarkably outrageous or false on their face) ... and I hope that line doesn't keep on getting crossed ...
  4. Could you please provide a citation or reference? I've never heard of such a thing. Furthermore, the TU reported that the skyway actually made a slight PROFIT for the 2004 fiscal year (which runs into 05) largely in part to the superbowl revenue. Though I previously called the skyway a failure (and I stand by that statement, in its proper context), it's only a failure in the sense that several poor design choices have limited its potential. But from a financial standpoint, it's certainly been no worse a project than any one of a dozen pointless road and highway projects.
  5. jeafl - I think you are probably painting the wrong picture in your mind. The only reason they called the commuter rail "from Fernindina to St. Augustine" was because those are the TERMINAL stops. The primary service would be from the Jax suburbs to Downtown ... all the points in between. The service to outlying stops is generally much lighter. Also, few people really walk to commuter lines. They drive or bike for a little bit, then get on the train, then ride downtown transit to their offices. That's how it works in Boston - it's very popular. It's definitely a system for suburbanites, to allow them to go downtown without having to worry about traffic or parking. (Also, they almost never run in circles. They go from the "major city" out in spokes to the suburbs and nearby towns. Check out a map of Boston at MBTA.com) Of course, the obvious retort is ... "well why should we be worried about mass transit for the suburbs, when our more urban neighborhoods need light rail!!" And that's a valid concern. However, projections can put commuter rail at damn near 50x cheaper per-mile than light-rail. Plus, commuter rail makes an eventual light-rail system more comprehensive (again, look at Boston). So it's a nice way to help ease into useful mass-transit projects without freaking out the taxpayers.
  6. These plans really sound wonderful to me. Lately, I had been losing a lot of faith in JTA. In my opinion, the BRT routes are very poorly conceived, and might very well become the next "skyway" type failure. (And as much as I love the skyway, you have to admit it has been a failure, if only for the simple reason that they didn't build it near where anyone actually lives!!!) - Water Travel ... I think this would be an amazing service. The problem though? No wake manatee zones EVERYWHERE, which might make it far too slow to be useful as a non-recreational form of transit. Just my prediction. - Commuter Rail & TOD ... Perfect. Simply perfect. It's exactly what Jacksonville (and St. Augustine) needs. But only 17 in the next 50 years?? That's not a very optimistic projection. I was hoping to personally build about a dozen myself within the next 40 years! But then again, I am a foolish dreamer (foolishly stuck in grad school). - Transportation Center ... great concept all around. However, it depends on state & federal funding. Mid 2006 might turn to 07, 08, 09 ... and beyond...
  7. Greg It sounds like you have more of a chip on your shoulder about America, than any American forumer possibly has against Dubai. Your contempt for America has all the subtlety of a paranoid Noam Chomsky manifesto, and all the charm of the Che Guevarra t-shirts your grade school teachers must have worn to class.
  8. Charlotte has a very nice airport. Frankly, I don't really see the need for it to become a huge hub. Atlanta/Wash/Philly/Baltimore are all within an hour's flight. It's already a medium-sized hub, and it seems to handle the traffic quite well (I've never had delays there anyway).
  9. BK is Catholic. Episcopal, figure it out ... I've never heard of any "forcing" of religion. They all still teach evolution in biology class, if that's what you mean. And you don't have to be Catholic or Episcopalian to get accepted. Bolles never so much as uttered a prayer in all the years I was there. It's totally non-religious. But yes, this is so utterly off-topic. I think I started this whole tangent several posts back. My bad.
  10. This is totally off topic, but I have always wondered about that phenomenon, Merlin. Perhaps you'll entertain my rant ... While I understand that most Duval schools are total crap (Raines and Rebault have a total average SAT score of below 800, for example), I guess I've always had a hard time understanding the value of Clay or St. Johns public schools. I knew a lot of people from Mandarin high (duval) and Nease high (st johns), and frankly, the Mandarin kids mostly got into better colleges and have seemed to do more with their lives so far. I also have a whole lot of extended family over the years who went to clay county schools (orange park, middleburg) and to be totally honest, they have never appeared well educated. On the other hand, Duval private schools aren't very impressive for the price. I'm a Bolles alum, and I personally feel that the school's academic standards have dropped like a rock since they hired a new headmaster 4 years ago. BK has never really tried to have super strong academics. I can't speak for Episcopal. Anyway, it seems to me that Stanton (and maybe Paxon or Douglas Anderson, depending) offer the best bang-for-your-buck academically in Jacksonville. I've never heard of a Clay or St Johns school having better numbers than Jax's specific magnet and IB programs. Merlin, if your son were to get into one of the "advanced" or "magnet" programs, would you move to Duval? In fact, if memory serves me, the smartest kids get bussed off to James Weldon Johnson for middle, and Stanton for high. Those schools are very close to downtown. Of course, I'm mostly speaking in terms of high schools, and I suspect your kid is younger. I know even less about elementary and middle schools. Are there other factors that I'm unaware of? What specific reasons really influenced your choice?
  11. I was looking through all the old photo galleries (great shots everyone!) and I didn't see any pictures of the new Brown Life Science building under construction. When I visted Providence back in October, I was stunned to see the huge steel frame already up. Does anybody have any recent photos? I'd love to see how it's coming along. (Since I lived one block away for three years, and walked by it every single day, I have somewhat of an attachment/interest in the site.)
  12. They still haven't done demolition yet, so I don't know how far off the project really is. However, I have no doubt that they will be able to sell out immediately, as the site is literally across the street from the main part of UF's campus. It's also within walking distance of lots of the popular bars and isn't that far from downtown. There are thousands of UF undergrads who would kill for that location.
  13. LaVilla basically is downtown. Nothing really meaningful divides "downtown" from "lavilla" other than the fact that lavilla is a couple blocks west of the CBD. I think the only reason it's even a named neighborhood is because is used to be the black area of town at the turn of the 20th century. In any event, I am also confused about the site. Is this center planned for the convention center station or the jefferson street station?? Either way, this hub will only be between a 5-10 minute walk from the center of downtown, which is a good distance. Plus, if someone hates walking, the skyway is right there and only 35 cents. Also, I do think it's a good idea to move the greyhound station further from the CBD. Like it or not, bus stations are FULL of riff-raff, and I do think it's more appropriate to keep them closer to the freeway, rather than in the heart of our CBD. Now if only we had this expansion plan 15 years ago, those assholes wouldn't have demolished 3 historic buildings on the greyhound site back in the late 90s. Bye the way, I also think the "landscaping" comment is ludicrous. Does anyone have any site plans or renderings besides the ones above? I thought I remembered the plan being relatively urban, but i could be wrong.
  14. Like Cotuit said, I think New Urbanists do want to affect parking in some respects, but it's all really about parking design, rather than parking numbers. New Urbanists essentially just want hidden parking, so large lots and ugly garages don't blight a neighborhood. In most cases, I think New Urbanists take a "hands off" approach to designing numbers of parking spaces. In fact, what they really want, is for cities to abolish all mandatory parking requirements, and let private developers decide how much parking is truly needed for their projects. They feel that in a less regulated situation, developers will typically opt to put in less parking than they currently are required to do. Remember, that in a New Urbanist vision, mixed use zoning is allowed, therefore residential units can be built within walking distance of office and retail. Given that rentable space is so much more profitable than parking space, the market would naturally take care of the rest. For example, take my current town of Jacksonville, Fl. A current suburban office is usually zoned to offer 8 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, basically to allow for the fact that 100% of employees drive their own personal car to work (since almost all suburban office buildings have huge vacancy rates, this leaves a sea of empty parking, leaving the average person with the impression that suburbia offers free and ample parking.) Conversely, downtown offices often offer 2-4 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet in garages - less spaces offered because garages are obviously more expensive, and the buildings have much lower vacancy rates. Sometimes downtown offices don't offer any parking. You have to find your own. However, now imagine Jacksonville - or any city - with a new urbanist zoning overlay. If developers were allowed the chance to build high density residential units within walking distance of offices, the need for large parking lots would naturally decline. We already know by example that 4 spaces per 1,000 sqft is enough to attract tenants in this market, so if given the opportunity, don't you think developers would love to convert half their parking lots into more profitable uses? But as things stand, they can't. Most American zoning prevents mixed-uses and mandates a high-number of parking spaces. ok, enough of my ranting ...
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