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asonj23

Agency plans its next bridge: Into the future

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Agency plans its next bridge: Into the future

Visionary concepts, politics have helped drive it for a half-century.

By DAVID BAUERLEIN, The Times-Union

The 50-year history of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is rife with visionary plans, political power plays, competing interests and city-changing ventures.

At the end of the day, the agency's bottom line boils down to this: Some expressways and bridges were built, and others died on the drawing board.

Motorists feel the impact of those "what if?" decisions every time they hit the road. Overall, Jacksonville's traffic would be worse if the authority had never existed, said James Crooks, a Jacksonville historian.

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Looking ahead to the next 50 years, JTA Executive Director Michael Blaylock said he expects the JTA will build a citywide rapid transit system for buses to travel at express speeds in designated lanes. The JTA also is examining the possibility of allowing cars to travel in those lanes if drivers pay a toll. Other ideas are a commuter rail and using boats to ferry people up and down the St. Johns River.

A more regular ferry service between the North and South banks would be great. I'm also glad to hear that the idea of a commuter rail is a possibility. To bad they won't consider replacing the BRT with light rail though. We could have service in a couple years versus a couple decades.

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I caught that too. However, I think they should replace most of BRT with commuter rail and only run one BRT line out from downtown, to the beaches, as well as an express bus route down Airport Road, between JIA & a "potential commuter rail stop", next to River City Marketplace. Due to its costs, light rail can wait.

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