In January, a pedestrian was killed attempting to cross the Arlington Expressway near the intersection with Townsend Boulevard. With no option available to cross the highway other than walking two miles out of the way with several missing sidewalk segments exposed to Florida's extreme climate, many Arlington residents are placed in life-or-death situations on a daily basis. At the time, Councilman Bill Bishop admitted that a pedestrian overpass over the deadly and outdated highway is needed but there is no funding to construct such a structure.
Just this month, another Arlington bicyclist has died after being hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Merrill Road and Searchwood Drive. Needless to say, this accident could have possibly been avoided if the intersection and many others on Merrill Drive actually had painted crosswalks to at least suggest that there are cyclists and pedestrians in the area.
With Jacksonville's city budget continuing to remain just as underwater as most resident's mortgages, discussion at city hall focuses more on what public services to cut than how can we best invest in improving our community and stimulating economic development within our most distressed neighborhoods. Luckily, there is a way for us to immediately move forward with the improvement of communities like Arlington without taking additional funds from the taxpayer. The answer is for Jacksonville's city council to let the self imposed mobility fee moratorium sunset this year, allowing the 2030 Mobility Plan to be fully implemented.
What is the Mobility Plan & Fee
The Mobility Plan & Fee is a replacement for the City of Jacksonville's former transportation concurrency system. It is a plan that provides a framework to integrate land development with mobility (pedestrians, bicycles, transit and roads) by providing the private sector with financial motivation to embrace smart growth principles, like gridded streets, in their projects design and site selection.
Second, it lays out a mobility fee for new construction throughout the city. The purpose of that fee is to generate funding needed to enhance public infrastructure negatively impacted by additional vehicle trips from new construction. Developments further from the city core that put more wear and tear on the city's streets and infrastructure will result in higher project mobility fees.
The Mobility Fee serves as a financial incentive to the private sector to stimulate redevelopment of underutilized sites throughout the city like Arlington's Town & Country Shopping center.
What can it do for Greater Arlington
In recent years, the City of Jacksonville Planning and Development Department (COJ-PDD) and Arlington/Beaches community created a vision plan for the neighborhood that was also adopted by City Council.
That community driven vision plan's guiding principles included:
Guiding Principle 1:
Community Character: Identify, Preserve, Protect, Promote and Enchance the Assets and Character of Greater Arlington/Beaches Communities
Guiding Principle 2:
Land Use, Growth & Development: Protect and Promote Community Through Land Use, Revitalization, and Development Patterns
Guiding Principle 3:
Transportation: Improve Mobility While Advancing Neighborhood Character
Guiding Principle 4:
Economic Growth: Provide Economic Growth which Advances Neighborhood Character
Guiding Principle 5:
Open Space and Recreation: Enhance Conservation Areas, Parks and Recreational Opportunities
A $3 million overpass dedicated to pedestrians and bicyclist, along with the construction of a complementing sidewalk network along the Arlington Expressway service roads, would be funded 100% by the mobility fee.
The Arlington/Beaches vision plan was born of a community effort, however to achieve that vision, it has to be incrementally implemented. Unfortunately, the City of Jacksonville's budget continues to bleed red and we spend more time finding ways to cut services than investing in established communities like Arlington. While we ponder closing libraries and reducing maintenance of public parks and right-of-way, Arlington's residents continue to die on its dangerous roadways and the neighborhood's economic struggles continue to grow.
What the Mobility Plan & Fee can do for Greater Arlington is generate the funding for that needed pedestrian overpass over the Arlington Expressway and improve the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout the community. Just as important, the mobility fee's credit adjustment component provides a financial incentive for private sector market rate reinvestment in the Greater Arlington area. Quite frankly, for Greater Arlington, the 2030 Mobility Plan & Fee is the only fiscally sustainable option available to the City of Jacksonville to incrementally implement the community's guiding principles over the next two decades. However, as long as the city's self imposed moratorium remains in place, all that awaits Arlington's future is prolonged economic stagnation.
University Boulevard would be one of Arlington's major thoroughfares to be vastly enhanced through the implementation of the 2030 Mobility Plan & Fee.
Mobility Plan Projects in Arlington
Arlington Automobile/Truck and Transit Mode - Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Projects
1. University Boulevard North - Arlington Expressway to Merrill Road - $0.26 million
Arlington Bicycle Mode Projects
2. Arlington Road - King Arthur Road to Long Star Road - $12,773.72 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)
3. Arlington Road West - King Arthur Road to Cesery Road - $173,448.92 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)
4. Long Star Road - Mill Creek Road to I-295 East Beltway - $174,856.16
5. University Boulevard North - Gable Lane to University Boulevard East - $563,909.04 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)
6. University Boulevard East - Cesery Road to Atlantic Boulevard - $168,850.92 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)
Arlington Pedestrian Mode Project Summary
7. Arlington Expressway - North Service Drive from Southside Boulevard to Cesery Boulevard - $4,175,790.75 (includes $3 million pedestrian bridge over Arlington Expressway)
8. Cesery Boulevard - Arlington River Bridge - $20,310.70
10. Mill Creek Road - Regency Square Boulevard to Lone Star Road - $106,415.15
Source: City of Jacksonville 2030 Multimodal Transportation Study
How to make it Happen
To move forward, the mobility fee moratorium must be allowed to sunset this fall as opposed to being extended indefinitely into the future. The easiest way to build support for sunsetting the moratorium is to let your local council representative know that you are a resident who cares for the future of your neighborhood and that you are in favor of allowing the moratorium to end.
District 1: Clay Yarborough
Phone: (904) 630-1389
Assistant: BeLinda Peeples
District 2: William Bishop
Phone: (904) 630-1392
Assistant: Suzanne Warren
District 3: Richard Clark
Phone: (904) 630-1386
Assistant: Sonia Johnson
District 4: Don Redman
Phone: (904) 630-1394
Assistant: Scott A. Wilson
District 5: Lori N. Boyer
Phone: (904) 630-1382
Assistant: James Nealis
District 6: Matt Schellenberg
Phone: (904) 630-1388
Assistant: Audrey Braman
District 7: Dr. Johnny Gaffney
Phone: (904) 630-1384
Assistant: Bridgette Rodriguez
District 8: E. Denise Lee
Phone: (904) 630-1385
Assistant: Dan Macdonald
District 9: Warren A. Jones
Phone: (904) 630-1395
Assistant: Rupel Wells
District 10: Reginald L. Brown
Phone: (904) 630-1684
Assistant: Mercedes Parker
District 11: Ray Holt
Phone: (904) 630-1383
Assistant: Connie Holt
District 12: Doyle Carter
Phone: (904) 630-1380
Assistant: Rebekah Hagan
District 13: Bill Gulliford
Phone: (904) 630-1397
Assistant: Stan Johnson
District 14: Jim Love
Phone: (904) 630-1390
Assistant: Kevin Kuzel
Group 1: Kimberly Daniels
Phone: (904) 630-1393
Assistant: Ricky Anderson
Group 2: John R. Crescimbeni
Phone: (904) 630-1381
Group 3: Stephen C. Joost
Phone: (904) 630-1396
Assistant: Celeste Hicks
Group 4: Greg Anderson
Phone: (904) 630-1398
Assistant: Leeann Summerford
Group 5: Robin Lumb
Phone: (904) 630-1387
Assistant: Donna Barrow
For more information on the 2030 Mobility Plan and Mobility Fee, CLICK HERE
Article by Ennis Davis