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Some projects won't beat Super Bowl

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Some projects won't beat Super Bowl

With three months to go, city won't get to spruce up everything

By DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Times-Union

Like the coming attractions for a Hollywood movie, a recent test of decorative lights on the Fuller Warren Bridge gave a preview of what Super Bowl visitors will see next February in Jacksonville.

The lights, rising from the bridge's piers and reflecting off the St. Johns River, would make a good postcard.

Except for the fact that the picture also includes the old half-demolished Fuller Warren Bridge that Mayor John Peyton has called an eyesore. The old bridge will still be standing when Jacksonville hosts the Super Bowl.

Across the city, there are similar examples of work that will be done in time for the Super Bowl, and conversely, projects that won't make the cut.

With three months to go, officials have pared down their "wish list" and are buckling down to complete improvements like lighting three downtown bridges, planting trees along Interstate 95, building the Northbank Riverwalk extension and constructing a temporary bridge over Hogans Creek to the Alltel Stadium area.

Rye grass and fresh flowers won't be planted along state roads. The state Department of Transportation says that would be too expensive.

Construction won't be finished on the huge interchange at Interstate 95 and Interstate 295 in south Jacksonville, or at Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Eighth Street. Eighth Street will be one of the roads to Talleyrand where cruise ships will dock.

Overhead electronic message signs won't be installed on Interstate 95 in north Jacksonville to give information to drivers, but there will be portable signs along the side of the highway.

"A wish list is just that," said Susie Wiles, chief of communications and special initiatives in the mayor's office. Overall, Peyton is "extremely pleased with progress across the board." The bottom-line goal, she said, is to showcase a "friendly, welcoming city that is clean and well-maintained" with an eye toward improvements that will benefit Jacksonville beyond the Super Bowl.

"I think the Super Bowl is a date in time that people have focused on for completing projects," said Reid Sigmon, vice president of operations for the Super Bowl Host Committee. "But I think all of the projects are ones that will help the city long-term."

The biggest visual change for the Super Bowl will be the $3.5 million lighting of the Fuller Warren, Main Street and Hart bridges. Those bridges will be lit nightly year-round, just as the Acosta Bridge is now.

"I'd love to say it will be done by Christmas," Jacksonville Transportation Authority spokesman Mike Miller said. But realistically, it probably will be mid-January, he said. The Main Street bridge will be the visual centerpiece, with blue-tinted lights shining on the steel span.

"There's going to be a crown of lights on top of the towers themselves that is going to be very impressive," Miller said.

A top-to-bottom repainting of the Main Street bridge will finish this month. Hurricane season slowed progress on the $7.2 million contract that also did some structural repairs.

The state had planned to repaint the green Hart Bridge, too, before the Super Bowl. But that was postponed after state lawmakers objected last year to closing the Hart and Main Street bridges at the same time for repainting. Instead, the state has done some touch-up painting on the Hart Bridge.

The state also pushed back demolition of the old Fuller Warren Bridge until after the Super Bowl. Opposition to disposing the bridge's concrete rubble in the St. Johns River put demolition on hold.

Another riverside attraction will be done by the Super Bowl when construction of the Northbank Riverwalk extension wraps up in January, said Marcy Cook, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Works.

When finished, the Riverwalk will run from near Berkman Plaza to the Fuller Warren Bridge. The Riverwalk's elevated walkway spanning the railroad tracks at the Acosta Bridge is taking shape, and that part of the extension should be done in December, Cook said.

Next month, the city will begin a $360,000 installation of a temporary bridge over Hogans Creek. The bridge will extend Adams Street behind the Maxwell House coffee plant, giving another route to Alltel Stadium. Also around Alltel the city has resurfaced Talleyrand Avenue and repaired sidewalks along the street. Bryan Street has been widened to three lanes to help with traffic flow.

Elsewhere in Jacksonville, the widening of Butler Boulevard to six lanes between Belfort Road and Gate Parkway is scheduled to be done in December. The JTA offered a $1 million bonus for speedy completion so visitors wouldn't be traveling in a construction zone on Butler.

But the state Department of Transportation's promise of a $5 million bonus for finishing the big interchange at I-95 and I-295 in south Jacksonville isn't going to get that construction finished before the Super Bowl.

Transportation Department spokesman Mike Goldman said a detour that takes I-95 northbound drivers to the Philips Highway exit on their way to I-295 will probably still be in place in February. He said the department will make sure signs and road striping are clear for visitors unfamiliar with the detour, and no construction will take place for two weeks before the Super Bowl and until one week after the game.

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

48377_400.jpg

With new lights at its base, the Fuller Warren Bridge achieves a postcard look on the St. Johns River in preparation for the Super Bowl.

BOB SELF/The Times-Union

Super Bowl checklist

With Super Bowl XXXIX three months away, preparation for showing off Jacksonville to visitors is moving into the home stretch. Here are projects that officials say will be done by the Super Bowl, and others that won't.

Will be finished by Super Bowl

# Decorative lighting on Main Street, Hart and Fuller Warren bridges

# Repaint the Main Street bridge

# Widen Butler Boulevard between Belfort Road and Gate Parkway

# Landscape along Interstate 95 from Interstate 295 to Emerson Street

# Landscape at Jacksonville International Airport

# Temporary bridge over Hogans Creek at the Alltel Stadium sports complex

# Northbank Riverwalk in downtown Jacksonville

# Renovate Skyway stations Won't be done by Super Bowl

# Finish demolishing old Fuller Warren Bridge

# Complete new interchange at Interstate 95 and Interstate 295 in south Jacksonville

# Finish widening Riverside Avenue near downtown

# Finish expansion of interchange at Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Eighth Street Won't start until after Super Bowl

# New interchange at Interstate 10 and Interstate 95

# New interchange at Florida 9A and Butler Boulevard

# Widening Interstate 95 with new Trout River Bridge

# Installation of permanent overhead message signs on Interstate 95 through north Jacksonville.

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This was bound to happen. Jacksonville needs to get the most important projects completed and then clean them up for the Super Bowl. I am sure that the committee will work around it.

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Well, they did accomplish alot, but there will always be something I wish they could have finished. But I'm looking forward to February!

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Do cities normally put this much effort into a one-night event, even with the economic impacts it is bound to bring for the city with or without improvements?

For the DNC in Boston the city didn't do so much in terms of sprucing things up, morelike putting up baracades and re-routing traffic. I guess perhaps this is part of JAX's efforts at revitalization. Its probably not something they will have to do next time if the superbowl returns.

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btw, are all the improvements (bridge lighting) remaining after the superbowl?

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Yes, the lights will be there forever, and I'm glad about that. It'll look so awesome, and each bridge will be even more unique.

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Do cities normally put this much effort into a one-night event, even with the economic impacts it is bound to bring for the city with or without improvements?

For the DNC in Boston the city didn't do so much in terms of sprucing things up, morelike putting up baracades and re-routing traffic.  I guess perhaps this is part of JAX's efforts at revitalization.  Its probably not something they will have to do next time if the superbowl returns.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Most of these projects have been on the city's wishlist for years. However, the super bowl gave the city a reason to move many of them up a couple of years. The best thing is all of these will remain after the big game leaves.

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Something else to consider is that many people view the Super Bowl as Jacksonville's Coming Out Party. Remember, this is the 51st media market in the nation, and many have no idea what to expect.

Not to mention, I think we can compare Jacksonville '05 to Tampa '84 and San Diego '88, in that they both created downtown revitalization with their Super Bowl efforts (Tampa's Ybor City, San Diego's Gaslight District).

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Super City Clean Up planned

by J. Brooks Terry

Staff Writer

The clock is ticking toward the Super Bowl and to prepare Jacksonville for its hosting duties, everyone will be asked to pitch in, especially those downtown during the Super City Clean Up.

As part of a Jan. 22 citywide sprucing up effort commissioned by the City

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