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Urban_Legend

Jacksonville Transit

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I think they're relying on the train tracks for this project. They run on the outskirts of downtown, near LaVilla, and that's the only place AmTrak can go. I'm still not clear on where in LaVilla this is going, but I'm guessing it will be near the Convention Center.

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Glad that it's being considered but something like this should be downtown, no?

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.

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^I'm pretty sure it will be adjacent to the Convention Center Skyway Station. Maybe it will be built on one of the JTA's surface parking lots. That would be nice! Also, I notice that one of the renderings shows some outdoor urban furniture (i.e. tables w/ umbrellas) so maybe a cafe will be included.

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This will be a great project. The best way to get people downtown is to have everything converge there...also it will be nice to get the greyhounds in there, because I remember the JAX greyhound station being particularly shady. This sort of reminds me of Boston's South Station, where the commuter trains, greyhounds, amtracks, all come into one large, and attractive, station. This could definitely be yet another nice public works project for JAX.

Edited by prahaboheme

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Personally, I think that instead of being next to the Prome Osborne, it should be the Prime Osborne. Remember, this thing was designed similarly to Penn Station in NYC, so it would function well as a transit hub. Plus, the rail lines already run next to the thing, and the Osborne Center isn't exactly the world's best Convention Center anyway (the new one probably will be at a different site)

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I totally agree that the Jacksonville Terminal (aka Convention Center) should go back to being a transit hub. It would be a great site. But if they build a separate transit center and move the Convention Center elsewhere, the building would need a tenant. If we couldn't use it as a train station, I think it would be a cool site for MOSH, but who knows if that would ever happen...

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Welcome to the forum scongro!

I agree with your position on the Osborn Center, and adding MOSH to it as Urban Legend suggests would be better still. The Osborn center is too isolated to be the best convention center location IMO. The Federal Reserve and RR tracks as well as the significant distance from the Landing and it's hotels serve to isolate it quite a bit.

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Thanks for the welcome!

I spend part of the time in Avondale, part with my parents in Ponte Vedra, and I am under contract for a townhome that is currently under construction at Kernan @ Wonderwood.

I wanted to move Downtown, but I wanted to own (not rent), and the options downtown are Berkman (IMO, not worth it for the price), the Shipyards (out of my price range, and who knows when anything will go vertical there), or the Parks at the Cathedral, which is not bad, but I am looking more short term, and I don't feel like it is a good short term investment (hurts to say, because I love downtown)

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Welcome to the forum, Scongro. I agree that Jax needs a new convention center and that the highest and best use for the Prime Osborne is to return it to its original use. However, at this time, I don't know where the money to fund it would possibly come from. With the courthouse situation, it would also be difficult to get the public behind spending millions of dollars for a new center at different location.

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Well, I'm sure people would never go for another better jax plan, but go with me for a second. The city owns the Prime Osborne, which the JTA would buy (hopefully we wouldn't give it away for too cheap). The JTA has to buy land and build the building already, and it's not like the Prime Osborne is in bad condition, so the renovations would be too extensive (relatively speaking).

Plus, what about the bed tax we are charging at our hotels? Between the two of these, I thing we should have a start.

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I believe the Convention Center study will recommend that the Bed Tax be bonded to provide the funds for a new center. Jack Diamond has mentioned that.

What that means is that the current bed tax revenue stream is used to pay off a bond issue to pay for the construction, rather than being spent annually as the money comes in.

I agree with Lakelander that the Courthouse fiasco will strongly dampen any attempt to build/expand a convention center. That's a real shame, because this is something Jax needs to do now, not later.

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City set to start buying land for rapid transit bus system

29-mile network for express buses would pick up passengers at 27 stations

By DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Times-Union

With $100 million in the bank and a stack of studies on the shelf, Jacksonville will start buying land in 2005 for a 29-mile rapid transit system where express buses zip along in their own lanes while picking up passengers at 27 stations in downtown and the suburbs.

The total bill for building the system over a 20-year period will be $611 million, according to estimates by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. To make good on the blueprint, the JTA must make headway in winning several hundred million dollars in state and federal support.

That will be a daunting challenge because other cities are competing for the same pot of transit cash, but JTA officials said they're optimistic they can build the system in stages.

"It's been through a lot of variations and a lot of study by a lot of people, including citizens," said Ed Castellani, rapid transit director for the JTA. "How fast it gets used and how fast we can get funding is how fast we are going to get it built."

The $100 million already on hand is from the Better Jacksonville Plan, approved by voters in 2000 with a half-cent sales tax increase.

Most of the plan's $1.5 billion in transportation funding is for roadwork, reflecting the fact that cars are the dominant way for people to get around. As Mayor John Peyton said at a recent town hall meeting in East Arlington, "Everybody on the road wants the person in front of them and the person behind them to ride the buses."

The premise behind rapid transit is that building lanes exclusively for buses will make riding the bus more appealing because buses will travel free and clear of the rush-hour congestion that makes driving a hassle.

"We don't have enough money and enough space to build enough roads," Castellani said, referring to long-range transportation studies that show worsening traffic jams citywide in the next 25 years. "As congestion builds, and it will, people will see the difference between sitting in traffic and the speed of transit."

The journey toward rapid transit began in 1997 when the JTA commissioned a report that envisioned a light rail line running from downtown to Gateway mall in north Jacksonville, a second light rail from downtown to Orange Park in Clay County, a third light rail from downtown to Mandarin, and a "busway" with lanes dedicated for buses from downtown to the Regency Square mall area in Arlington.

JTA dropped the idea of light rail because of the high cost. Instead, all the rapid transit routes would use express buses with an eye toward converting the routes to light rail lines in the future if ridership is high enough.

The 2O-year plan also scaled back the size of the system to bring down the cost. The north leg reaches Gateway mall and the east leg still goes to Regency Square mall. But the southwest legs goes only to Wilson Boulevard in Jacksonville, well short of the Clay County line. The southeast leg stops at Baymeadows Road, rather than continuing to Mandarin.

The JTA has estimated the cost of building the system in two ways. In today's dollars, it would cost $476 million. That cost is comparable to estimates for what it would cost to build the proposed "outer beltway" through Clay County and St. Johns County with a new bridge over the St. Johns River.

Because rapid transit won't be built all at once, the JTA also has taken into account inflation and penciled in the figure of $611 million over the 20-year period.

A city typically pays 25 percent of the cost for building rapid transit, along with a 25 percent contribution by the state and 50 percent from the federal government. Based on that formula, Jacksonville's share of the cost would be $153 million.

The JTA's financial forecasts show the agency can achieve the local match by using the $100 million earmarked in the Better Jacksonville Plan and tapping the JTA's current revenue sources for bus service to get the remaining $53 million.

Castellani said the order in which the different phases are built is tentative. However, the agency will definitely start acquiring right of way in 2005 and expects to spend the $100 million from the Better Jacksonville Plan by 2010.

The JTA is banking on being able to share state Department of Transportation right of way at no cost for the bus lanes. Most of the Better Jacksonville Plan funding will purchase the property for the transit stations, Castellani said.

The JTA's study has identified general areas for stations but not specific pieces of property. One station might be in the northeast corner of Interstate 95 and Baymeadows Road, where a home-building company proposes to build condominiums on what's now the Baymeadows Golf Club course. At a town hall meeting on that proposed development, residents who live along the golf course laughed derisively at the notion that rapid transit would help traffic congestion on Baymeadows Road.

The JTA also faced neighborhood-based opposition when it considered buying land at Atlantic Boulevard and San Pablo Road for a transit site with a park-and-ride lot. The authority pulled the plug on that earlier this year after deciding the future route for rapid transit to the Beaches communities would run down Beach Boulevard.

In cities that already have rapid transit, a growing trend in real estate development is "transit-oriented development" around stations, according to a September report by the Federal Transit Administration. Those living near transit stations own fewer cars than the region as a whole, are more likely to rent an apartment than own a home and prefer living in a denser development where they're close not only to the transit station, but also to stores and restaurants.

"I don't think it's ever too soon to start planning for that," said Jeannie Fewell, director of the city's Department of Planning and Development. "Whether it's too soon for it to reach a point where it's faster for people to get out of their cars and take a dedicated bus [lane], that's really an individual choice."

david.bauerleinjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4581

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While i'd love to see Jacksonville get Rapid Transit, it seems like JTA is taking the wrong direction. Instead of extending lines to Regency, Gateway, Baymeadows, and Wilson, they should pick two of them, and finish them (like from the Airport to the Avenues). I'd think there would be a lot more demand for a line from OP to Downtown, rather than just Wilson for example. I know you have to start somewhere, but if you get Skyway sized ridership, people will scream.

What do you all think?

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I know they're planning for a route to the airport. That'll be an important connection. I'm glad to hear of some progress on this. While I wish that we could get Light Rail, I'll settle for the bus thing. It sounds as if the stations will be nice. Also, I hope that the new Matthews Bridge will include a dedicated lane for the Regency-bound transit. Kinda like how the Acosta bridge has a Skyway lane.

If you haven't been to the Rapid Transit site, check it out here.

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Its great to see that they aren't wasting anytime getting this thing done. However, if it were up to me, I'd change a couple of things.

To me it should be mandatory to connect the airport to downtown, with any new line the city choses to do. I also noticed two routes (downtown-Wilson & downtown-Baymeadows) run, nearly parallel to existing rail right of way.

Based on this, I'd consider running two commuter rail lines in these corridors, one from downtown to ST. AUGUSTINE and the other from Downtown to Orange Park. With the rest of the remaining BRT money, I'd expand the North and East BRT lines to the airport and the beaches.

In the end, to me, commuter rail seems like a cheaper, quicker, and more viable option. The tracks are already there and CSX and FEC are both local companies. The city, JTA or some body should negotiate a deal with these companies, buy a couple of commuter trains, build some stations (nothing to expensive) are start operating the lines. Just look at Tri-Rail in South Florida for the closet example of what I'm talking about.

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^I agree, the existing tracks should be used for transit. There's rails next to Roosevelt Blvd that would be perfect for commuter trains. Oh well, I'm at least thankful that there will be some form of transfer station for the Skyway. Perhaps that will increase Skyway's ridership.

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But since you have the Skyway, why do you have all of the downtown stops?

To see what I'm talking about, check out the print article (the maps do not appear online).

To me, you have a stop at the intermodal center, and maybe a stop at the stadium (since a line goes over the Mathews anyway), and that's it.

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the bus rapid transit line is a good idea and it has been installed in south miami, down by the dadeland area. and about once a week there was somebody who made a right turn when they weren't supposed to ... wham.... accident. this means that now traffic will have a red light for right turns.. Light rail i think would be a better way to go, but to much infrastructure>>> a rail system like the tri-rail is probably the best option, it has the ablility to cover the longest distances with a system that is partially inplace. the only issue i can see with this is the amount of cargo traffic on our rails.. ever been at the sunbeam rail crossing???

along time ago, there was talk of converting the prime osborn back to train service. this is jacksonville's grand central, 30th street station, it could truly be an intermodal... the convergence of amtrak, busses, skyway all in one place and central to downtown. let's let jack diamond build his new convention center and bring trains back to downtown ... plus since the major tracks are there>>> commuter trains will work as well.... of course we can put all these things in action, but unitl jacksonvill-ians give up the car>>> ???

thoughts????

Thanks

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of course we can put all these things in action, but unitl jacksonvill-ians give up the car>>> ???

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

give up the car??? Are you MAD man? As someone who has lived abroad and in other major cities, this is a fundamental mentality that is going to be extremely hard to break around here. Granted it will be much easier to do this if the infrastructure was in place to move people in a timely fashion around the downtown and the city. I think turning the Osborne back into a viable station is a fantastic idea and without a doubt it could truly become an intermodal. This revitallization of the Osborne I think would help to bring even more new construction it's way and really extend the boundaries of "downtown proper".

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Last I heard, JTA was building their own intermodal center, which will probably leave out the Prime Osbourne.  Oh well, it really would've been awesome.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

well, as always.. none of the city parts can seem to work together on things. This subject of the prime osborn was raised about 4-5 years ago at a panel discussion on Jacksonville during arch week here. Seeing all of JTA's wondeful taste in architecture i can't wait to see the intermodal??? nothing like a 100' long hip roof. can you imagine returning the main hall of the osborn back to its previous life and coming off of a bus or train, you would think this was a major metropolitan city... allow the disappointment to hit you later. If you look at the bus lanes timeline , the project will take about 20 yrs. to complete, and with the population growing at the rate it is, it most likely will be to late by then, but this is the way the system works... never think ahead, just work to catch up.

in the end it all comes down to cost... 400 million here, 2 billion there? it takes about a year to lay asphalt on a street??

Merlin, yep... i am reminded of a PBS special on the car that had a college professor standing at Detroit's version of the skyway explaining why it doesn't work... "because there should be a sign at the gate that says 'Loser enter here'" and then stated "it's a great way to take an air conditioned tour of the ruins of Detroit." i think when gas hits $5 a gallon but we are still making the same amount of money... you'll see alot of parked SUV's at the bus stop.

Thanks.

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Original Article

0531194350_m2painting.jpg

Video: Proposed Transportation Hub

By Melissa Ross

First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- State transportation officials and the JTA are working on long-simmering plans to bring a huge new transportation complex to the Prime Osborn Convention Center that would unite Amtrak, Greyhound, JTA buses, and the Skyway in one big hub.

The facility would cost $127 million, with both federal and state money funding the project.

Council president Elaine Brown is meeting with Mayor Peyton next week to discuss plans for the proposed "Jacksonville Transportation Center," or JTC. The center would also feature a hotel, retail space, and pedestrian walkways.

"It could be the hottest place in Jacksonville," said Brown, who conceded getting the funding will be a challenge.

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It will be interesting to hear more detailed information about this. If this can be pulled off, it would definately be a big positive for the Prime Osborn and what's left of LaVilla, as well as getting Greyhound out of the heart of downtown.

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