JTA's plans for I-95/JTB Interchange Shortsighted

June 11, 2010 66 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explains why JTA's current plans for the I-95/Bulter Boulevard Interchange may be shortsighted.



May 20, 2010 Public Comment by Metro Jacksonville

JTA also has plans for commuter rail along the FEC Corridor. A commuter rail station is proposed at the intersection of Phiips Highway and Butler Boulevard, making this project an important link between the rail station and Southpoint.  


The proposed commuter rail system will include a station and park-n-ride lot at Bulter Blvd.

However, this PD&E study omits transit, pedestrian, and bicycle mode connections that could link activity centers on opposite sides of I-95.


The interchange project aerial illustrates how I-95 severs Southpoint.

With the federal administration in favor of funding "Complete Streets" and current JTA & North Florida TPO mass transit projects proposed in the area, a serious effort should be made to integrate alternative transportation modes into proposed interchange plans.

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On Monday, March 15th, US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced a new "complete streets" policy that would put planning for bicycling and pedestrians on equal footing with highways and transit. In his blog, Secretary LaHood states that "this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

He goes on to say:

“We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

• Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.

• Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.

• Go beyond minimum design standards.

• Collect data on walking and biking trips.

• Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.

• Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)

• Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

The new US DOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations are posted on FHWA’s website.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/policy_accom.htm



JTA's Official Response

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Thank you for your time and consideration in providing comments as part of the public hearing for the project on SR 202 (JTB) from SR 5/US 1 (Philips Highway) to Belfort Road.  Your comments and these responses will be recorded within the documentation of the public hearing.
 
The project considered the potential for a commuter rail station to be located at the park and ride lot north of the intersection of JTB on Philips Highway. Queue jump lanes (or lane that will allow buses to bypass vehicles that are stopped at the intersection of JTB and Philips Highway) were considered to enhance the quality of traffic flow and access to the park-and-ride lot and future commuter rail station location.  
 
Sidewalks and bike lanes will be provided within the project area in accordance with FDOT standards which is limited to the segment west of I-95. On Philips Highway, sidewalks and bike lanes will be constructed within the limits of the project. On JTB, bike lanes and sidewalks will be constructed between Philips Highway and Bonneval Road. Florida Statutes Section 316.091, (2) and (4) prohibits bicyclists and pedestrians from using the shoulder or roadway of limited access roadways (freeways) or interstate highways. The limited-access portion of JTB begins just west of the intersection with the southbound exit ramp.  Therefore, additional bicycle and pedestrian connections to the east are not permitted.

Source: Jacksonville Transportation Authority



Metro Jacksonville Reply

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Thanks for your response.  If you don't mind, could you provide me with an answer to why a multiuse path was able to be developed along the limited access Suncoast Parkway in Central Florida?  
 
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/westcentral/trails/suncoast.htm
 
http://www.pascoedc.com/UserFiles/Image/Site page photos/Transportation2_250.jpg
 
It would seem with the large amount of Right-Of-Way in possession, a bike/ped connection could be incorporated into this project to connect Bonneval Rd with Salisbury and Belfort Roads without interfering or coming into contact with limited access facilities.  With no other way to cross I-95 in the area and a $100 million road project being proposed, this seems like the time to go above the minimum by applying creative context sensitive solutions in an area that desperately needs them.
 
Thanks,


The Gulf Coast's Suncoast Parkway's Suncoast Trail indicates that alternative modes of transportation can be integrated into limited access roadway projects.



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Suncoast Parkway

The 42-mile-long Suncoast Parkway (SR 589) proceeds north from the Veterans Expressway to US 98 in Hernando County, Florida, near Chassahowitzka. Drivers of automobiles traveling the entire length of the Suncoast Parkway pay $3.00 US toll.

The Suncoast Parkway is the first Florida's Turnpike Enterprise toll road to feature open road tolling. The three mainline toll plazas on the Suncoast Parkway feature bypasses where those paying cash remain on the mainline and stop at the toll plaza while those with Sunpass or related transponders exit the mainline roadway, bypass the toll plaza and then re-enter the mainline. This differs from other open road tolling locations in Florida where transponder users remain on the mainline and bypass toll booths built to the side.

Suncoast Trail

As part of the Suncoast Parkway project, a multi-use paved recreational trail, called the Suncoast Trail, was constructed parallel to the western side of the highway, immediately adjacent to the road's southbound lanes, and opened along with the Parkway itself in 2001. The trail begins at Lutz-Lake Fern Road (Exit 16), and continues north for 41 miles, to the highway's terminus at US 98. Four miles north of State Road 54, an additional 6.5-mile trail connects the Suncoast Trail to JB Starkey Wilderness Park, in New Port Richey. The use of the trail is free, and motor vehicles are prohibited along the entire trail.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_State_Road_589





JTA Official Response

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thanks for your email and comments, don’t have and know all the background information, details and the planning efforts that went into the design and implementation of the 40 miles long Suncoast Trail in Tampa area; the picture showed the trail separated from the freeway by a fence with ample room between them.  However, a couple of points relative to the subject project proposed concept plans and your proposal for a multiuse path from Bonneval to Salisbury; replacement of the existing I-95 Overpass Bridge over JTB is not part of the proposed plans, therefore, no room for sidewalk/bike lane under the bridge, in fact, there is no room for a standard roadway shoulder under the existing bridge; the only way to cross I-95 would be to construct a tunnel under I-95 and its ramps!  In addition, there is not sufficient available right-of-way east of I-95.  So, there are considerable cost and issues associated with providing a mile multiuse path from Bonneval to Salisbury.  Your comments and inputs are appreciated as we have a common goal in planning, designing and constructing livable and walk-able transportation system.


This image of the Suncoast Parkway illustrates how bridge infrastructure can be designed to accommodate multiple modes.  Using a similar approach, the same could be done with a proposed flyover in JTA's $100 million plan.



Pittsburgh's Fort Duquesne Bridge (Interstate 279) is another example of a limited access facility that includes pedestrian and bicycle facilities.


Conclusion


The blue line illustrates a potential path a multi-use trail could take to better connect the east and west sides of Southpoint together. This additional transportation mode could become a popular option for short travel trips within the district and a viable connector link between commuter rail and Southpoint.

It is completely unacceptable to invest $100 million into a road project and not address the pedestrian, bicycle and transit connection needs of the immediate area. Metro Jacksonville encourages JTA to go beyond the minimum design standards and incorporate the US DOT's new "Complete Streets" policy into their plans for Southpoint.

Article by Ennis Davis