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Mass Transit Deja Vu?

Metro Jacksonville's Bob Mann on how major cities San Diego and Portland took a streetcar development plan similar to Jacksonville's up into the clouds of success, while we fiddled away a leadership opportunity. And - are we about to do it again?

Published February 23, 2012 in Transit      29 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

It seems once again, that a fantastic Jacksonville concept has been shoved into the city's closet, while other cities take it and run to the front. This is a classic case of Déjvu.



In Jacksonville, the original proposal in 1980 was for a historic, vintage streetcar line. It was explained to the city that new streetcars could use the same system at a future date. The idea was mocked and JCCI told the city that the streetcars 'must' operate in a street, that they are slow and outdated. Of course it was a set-up deal, the Skyway was going to be free.


Thirty-two years ago I proposed a concept to bring back Jacksonville's historic streetcar system; it made use of five rebuilt, original trolley cars, which were still scattered around town, preserved in various states of decay. Three city councilmen, Eric Smith, Jim Wells, and Andy Johnson, picked up the concept, as well as did the  Downtown Development Authority. Yet, JTA had 'a better idea.' Let's not lock our city into the 1920s,” we were told.



If Skyway, like monorails, were the trains of the future, as JTA led Jacksonville to believe, then why did Burbanks Aerial Swallow never get beyond it's 1912 demonstration? This 'Skyway' was known as 'Fawkes Folly' for its inventor.


The media was told “people-movers and monorails are the train of the future.” Besides claiming the initial line would carry 60,000 passengers a day, JTA was also confused as to the nature of the system, often referring to it as “rapid transit.” After all, it was free, the federal government would pay for it, and we could easily and economically expand it. As the citizen leading the charge for a more logical system, I quickly learned that it didn’t have to make sense; we were going to get a Skyway.



An excellent photo of the ultra modern Charlotte Light Rail system; note the trail alongside and imagine what Jacksonville could do with the 'S-line' or former Jacksonville Belt Railroad.


As for streetcars, imagine rolling south from the Jacksonville Terminal (The Prime Osborn Convention Center) through the beautiful streets and medians of Riverside/Avondale in the same vehicles that built the historic suburb. We would pass Oak Street, King Street, College Street, and then along the former Jacksonville streetcar right-of-way between Roosevelt and the CSX tracks. But no ... we got a Skyway.

Now accelerating to 50 mph, we'd make occasional short stops at little stations in the green strip between the highway and railroad. First Edgewood, San Juan, Venetia and NAS Jax, last stop Wells Road? No; our little 'train-of-the-future-past' turns west on Wells and clatters down to the end of the line toward Blanding Boulevard and a massive parking facility at Orange Park Mall. But according to JTA, its idea was superior and so … we got a Skyway.



Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, Great Britain: where trains once ran, they have now taken up the tracks for bus rapid transit. According to the BRT literature, "when ridership reaches a certain point, it will be converted to rail." Needless to say, that has never been done.


With the Better Jacksonville Plan (BJP), JTA even had $100 million dollars in city money for mass transit right-of-way purchase. Ignoring how development normally works, JTA sat out to buy a number of shopping centers - centers they would call “transit-oriented development.” The citizens demonstrated faith in the system by voting the BJP into being, but unfortunately, JTA's signature lethargy, misdirection, lack of vision, and need to bail out John Peyton's courthouse, saw to the money evaporating. We could have had right-of-way… but we got a Skyway.

These amazing, high-capacity vehicles run in streets like a bus, on segregated railroad tracks like a train, and anywhere else tracks are built. Going where no bus dares to venture, light rail vehicles are just as happy to sprint down the green medians, over the road, under the road, or off the side of the road. This is what might have been if the “Monarchs on Myrtle” had bold, progressive vision, or if we had mass transit professionals running transit rather than highway builders. But we got a Skyway.
 
At the time we proposed the roughly three-mile starter system, the only other city working on a similar plan was San Diego. San Diego had inherited 15 miles of industrial track, and like Jacksonville, it has a wonderful streetcar heritage. The San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad was a Southern Pacific Railroad property, running south to Mexico, where the line turned east and actually crossed and re-crossed the Mexican border. At one time, the tracks rejoined the Southern Pacific mainline in Yuma, AZ., but thanks to massive landslides, was cut off from it's parent railroad and had to forward all traffic via Los Angeles along the coastal route of archrival Santa Fe Railroad. Meanwhile in Jacksonville, the ‘S-line', F&J route, and Gateway Mall railroads were likewise abandoned. We could have easily graduated to real rapid transit … but we got a Skyway.

Hum? What to do? As history records, for an investment of $86 million, (about 1 1/2 the cost of a single Jacksonville outer beltway interchange) San Diego purchased the abandoned and isolated track, rebuilt it, constructed 'stations', strung overhead wire and bought modern light-rail equipment. A leasee bought the rights to continue freight service, and temporal or physical separation insures light rail doesn’t mix with active locomotives. So the trains still switch and deliver their interchange traffic with the Santa Fe (BNSF) at night when the streetcars are put to bed. They have 15 miles of clean, rapid transit. But we got a Skyway.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, Jacksonville so busied itself with the ‘future,’ that Buck Rogers would have blushed. Pouring about $200 million of federal cash into a 2.4-mile monorail (*1) that runs from ‘nothing’ to ‘nowhere,’ but at least you can't get to ‘anywhere,’ by using it. But we got a Skyway.



1954; The highway builders convinced Los Angeleno's that the MTA would modernize the city's mass transit system with a bus subway system. Somewhere along the way, a reality check thankfully killed the idea.


The Skyway came into being at a time when there was unused railroad track running from Broad Street, down the center of Houston Street, all the way to the current JTA bus yard west of I-95. From the bus yard, another unused railroad ran north to about 13th and Moncrief, then turned east to the Springfield Railroad Yard, just east of Ionia Street. In Springfield, it met another unused railroad line, which ran from Gateway Mall, through the yard and south to Maxwell House. Finally, there was also a track running next to Bay Street from Maxwell House, east across the front of Metropolitan Park, to about the area of the Tail Gate Park; This was intact and unused railroad track, entirely on grade-separated right-of-way - all we needed to tie it all together was a short connecting link through downtown.  We would have had a complete urban loop, an eastside branch, and a Gateway branch. In all likelihood, that track could have been sold to the city for a token amount ... but we got a Skyway.

Portland quickly followed San Diego, and the idea is so good, that the number of cities with streetcar and light rail has exploded from a mere handful of survivor lines to around 75 modern systems. There is another 20-30 that operate only vintage cars, and even more systems planned. But we got a Skyway.

Finally, behind all of these other cities, some 32 years later, Jacksonville finally has a streetcar proposal in place. Our starter streetcar line has a creative funding mechanism called a mobility plan. The mobility plan would replace many impact fees on new development, but unlike impact fees, the monies collected would be kept within each of the mobility districts to create neighborhood-specific transit solutions. Just as it appeared we would follow the success of many other cities, the City Council swallowed some talk offered by various builders, and placed a one-year moratorium on the plan. Possibly ignorant of the record, the City Council thought it better in this economy to have a dozen new fast food restaurants than to commit to a plan that could bring billion-dollar relocations our way. One might despair … but we got a Skyway.

One would think with this fiasco being well known, JTA and the City Council might have sat down and learned from this experience, looking at the proven track record of streetcars and light rail to bring about urban change and billions of dollars in new development. Being in the dubious position of the largest city in North America without any form of fixed rail transit, we now have a mobility plan, a streetcar concept and a chance to draw even with our competitor cities. We need to remember … we got a Skyway.



Here is another headline-grabbing monorail attempt, New York's City Island Railway was unique. Its very first run in 1901, packed with excited passengers, promptly flipped onto its side. It finally did get into regular operation and was quickly replaced with a streetcar route.


Meanwhile, JTA has another 'better idea'. Remember, we were told not to lock our city into the 1920s. Bus rapid transit, known as BRT, is JTA’s new 'train' of the future. Dedicated lanes for buses will really bring in the crowds. Massive new development can be expected all along the BRT routes. We are being told it will be “just like rail only cheaper.” There is even an implied certainty that BRT will attract 60,000 passengers a day. Meanwhile, other cities all across the country are posturing themselves to leap ahead. But we got a Skyway.

We are the city that told Mr. Disney that “We don’t do business with carnival people.” We’re the city that built a 1,200-car parking garage with no convenient access, and developed a plan for a multimodal center as big as a small nation.  We're a city that build a bridge too low, a convention center too small, and a courthouse too large, then killed the very plan that would have improved our access to all of them. Our citizenry is so completely misinformed that reality is not a consideration in anything coming from our local government, as South Florida is now taking control of another of our 'great ideas.' Remember the confused words of the former executive director of Springfield Preservation: "We don't need streetcars, WE ALREADY HAVE TROLLEYS!" …But now we’re getting BRT!

Read the story from the Naples News in South Florida : http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/feb/12/sudden-impact-mobility-fees-may-soon-pave-way-to/



This Brookline streetcar is rolling along on private right-of-way in 1966, literally on borrowed time. It would be replaced by a dedicated busway that has failed to post the ridership numbers of the old trolleys.


Just imagine what these cities are going to do with their mobility funds. We won’t have to worry about it, because our city council took us out of the game. After all, this new BRT system is largely FREE, the federal government will pay for it, and we could easily and economically expand it. Déjà vu? Déjà vu!


Editorial by Robert Mann.

(*1) The Skyway was originally built as a rubber tired people mover not unlike the ones at many modern airports. When it became obvious that it wasn’t rapid transit, the whole system was changed to monorail.
 







29 Comments

Noone

February 23, 2012, 06:38:32 AM
Nice article. Bob would you like to ride the skyway? I'm serious. Not trying to make a joke about it. I'd welcome your insight.

jaxlore

February 23, 2012, 09:02:17 AM
Great article I wish someone from JTA read this blog or someone on this blogged worked for the JTA it would make jacksonville a better place.

Ocklawaha

February 23, 2012, 09:11:08 AM
Sure Noone, actually I find riding it when I'm downtown is superior to trying to find a handicap parking space and hiking a mile or two.

In short, I would have NEVER built it, but now that the really expensive stuff, operations center, junctions, car barn, etc. we should try to recover our loss by making it a feeder to a north bank regional streetcar system. The Skyway should be completed to San Marco and east Jacksonville, in order to effect a seamless trip from San Marco to the majority of north bank downtown destinations. Any further adventures should only require a single connection.

JTA executives read this site, but one has to wonder how many of the good folks at City Hall pay attention.

OCKLAWAHA

Garden guy

February 23, 2012, 09:24:14 AM
Sounds like the work of a true conservative southern city...always a little behind....like 80 years.

cline

February 23, 2012, 09:28:49 AM
Great article I wish someone from JTA read this blog or someone on this blogged worked for the JTA it would make jacksonville a better place.

No it wouldn't.  JTA does not care about mass transit, and they especially don't care about streetcar.  They care about building roads.

thelakelander

February 23, 2012, 09:37:43 AM
^which is why the gas tax expiring is a good thing, in terms how should JTA be utilized in the future to best benefit the community.  It creates an opportunity to reevaluate how things are currently run and determine if changes in funding strategies and priorities are truly needed.

cline

February 23, 2012, 09:56:34 AM
It cannot come soon enough.

wsansewjs

February 23, 2012, 09:57:16 AM
^which is why the gas tax expiring is a good thing, in terms how should JTA be utilized in the future to best benefit the community.  It creates an opportunity to reevaluate how things are currently run and determine if changes in funding strategies and priorities are truly needed.

Basically, you are saying that JTA is one fat, nasty, rotten, and spoiled baby, and we need to snatch the lollipop away from the baby in order to make the baby cry, bitch, whines?

For the record, I have NOTHING nice to say about JTA until the clobber-heads over there get their s*** together.

-Josh

Ocklawaha

February 23, 2012, 10:08:48 AM
Why not tell us how you REALLY feel wsansewjs?  LOL!

Uncle Ock  ;)

wsansewjs

February 23, 2012, 10:20:03 AM
Why not tell us how you REALLY feel wsansewjs?  LOL!

Uncle Ock  ;)

For once, I am a rider of JTA Connexion and JTA. I can go on and rip a new hole in JTA by ranting all day, but I need time to compile a "nice" list where they should bend over and prepare to be spanked, starting with Michael Blaylock.

-Josh

thelakelander

February 23, 2012, 10:22:30 AM
Like the last 60 years of restrictive downtown development policies, I'm pretty much saying that what we have in place, clearly doesn't work.  If it doesn't work, then why try to preserve the failed structure and do more of the same?

KenFSU

February 23, 2012, 10:46:39 AM
For those who have been in Jacksonville for a long time, I'm curious as to how long it took for public sentiment to turn against the Skyway? Was it immediate? Mid-90's? Or is the almost universal bad attitude toward the Skyway a relatively recent phenomenon?

fsujax

February 23, 2012, 10:49:10 AM
Nothing is going to change. I really had hoped that Mayor Brown would be stronger on some of these issues. He isn't really to concerned about improving transit, by not extending the gas tax and some how radically changing JTA by not doing this. He is just sticking to his "i don't support taxes or fees" mantra. To the detriment of those that voted for him and to the like of those who didn't vote for him.

thelakelander

February 23, 2012, 10:49:54 AM
KenFSU, good question.  Ocklawaha, are you around?

fsujax

February 23, 2012, 10:50:27 AM
the public has always been against the Skyway.

Ocklawaha

February 23, 2012, 12:19:12 PM
For those who have been in Jacksonville for a long time, I'm curious as to how long it took for public sentiment to turn against the Skyway? Was it immediate? Mid-90's? Or is the almost universal bad attitude toward the Skyway a relatively recent phenomenon?

While there was a small group of grumblers, the same ones that complain that ice cream is cold, and ovens get hot, were against it from the start. I was in the forefront of the battle and there were thousands who bought the JTA sales pitch, hook line and sinker. My little group would hear it everywhere: "Why are you trying to hold us back?" "Trolley's are yesterdays technology, we're getting a elevated transit 'just like Chicago!'" "Why wouldn't you want this, in a couple of years, you'll be able to ride 'Rapid Transit' to the beach and Orange Park." "Only important big cities have elevated trains." etc...

JTA had so soaked the city with a confusilated mix of stories, it's hard to believe they were describing the same system. Some of the actual Skyway documents show the Skyway's stations labeled RAPID TRANSIT, while others say it would connect with a rapid transit. When asked about the future, we not only heard the 60,000 passengers a day number but likewise they continuously dropped words such as 'beaches', 'Gateway Mall,' and 'Orange Park.' They never really explained that what they were building was really nothing more then an very expensive airport style horizontal elevator. It should have been obvious, and I tried in vain to draw attention to the fact that riding that thing over the Matthews Bridge (another name that was dropped) all the way to the beach was a ridiculous scheme.

Once the 'new' wore off of it and the public realized of all of the routes they could have chosen, incompetence drove them to build from Central Station to the empty sandy blocks in LaVilla. And JTA continued to hold on to their ridership projections through the planning stages, explaining that people would park and ride it 2,000 feet into town. As the system neared it's phase one completion date, they revised the ridership figures straight down, over and over again.

Guess what? Ask their planners why they've never met a single one of their projections and you'll hear a story about how the city got cold feet and stopped pushing to complete it. You will also hear how 'they were shortchanged' in trying to get the routes built as planned.  The Monorail conversion? If you've got to have this type of system, that was a smart move, although it just extended their excuse making.

Perhaps the ultimate fail was the Super Bowl Game. When JTA could have easily caught a grant to complete the stadium line, they thought that was a bad idea. Why? "Because it would be over crowded and make the city look bad," as if dumping fans from the south side hotels at Central Station didn't piss a few people off!

OCKLAWAHA



wsansewjs

February 23, 2012, 01:31:02 PM
For those who have been in Jacksonville for a long time, I'm curious as to how long it took for public sentiment to turn against the Skyway? Was it immediate? Mid-90's? Or is the almost universal bad attitude toward the Skyway a relatively recent phenomenon?

While there was a small group of grumblers, the same ones that complain that ice cream is cold, and ovens get hot, were against it from the start. I was in the forefront of the battle and there were thousands who bought the JTA sales pitch, hook line and sinker. My little group would hear it everywhere: "Why are you trying to hold us back?" "Trolley's are yesterdays technology, we're getting a elevated transit 'just like Chicago!'" "Why wouldn't you want this, in a couple of years, you'll be able to ride 'Rapid Transit' to the beach and Orange Park." "Only important big cities have elevated trains." etc...

JTA had so soaked the city with a confusilated mix of stories, it's hard to believe they were describing the same system. Some of the actual Skyway documents show the Skyway's stations labeled RAPID TRANSIT, while others say it would connect with a rapid transit. When asked about the future, we not only heard the 60,000 passengers a day number but likewise they continuously dropped words such as 'beaches', 'Gateway Mall,' and 'Orange Park.' They never really explained that what they were building was really nothing more then an very expensive airport style horizontal elevator. It should have been obvious, and I tried in vain to draw attention to the fact that riding that thing over the Matthews Bridge (another name that was dropped) all the way to the beach was a ridiculous scheme.

Once the 'new' wore off of it and the public realized of all of the routes they could have chosen, incompetence drove them to build from Central Station to the empty sandy blocks in LaVilla. And JTA continued to hold on to their ridership projections through the planning stages, explaining that people would park and ride it 2,000 feet into town. As the system neared it's phase one completion date, they revised the ridership figures straight down, over and over again.

Guess what? Ask their planners why they've never met a single one of their projections and you'll hear a story about how the city got cold feet and stopped pushing to complete it. You will also hear how 'they were shortchanged' in trying to get the routes built as planned.  The Monorail conversion? If you've got to have this type of system, that was a smart move, although it just extended their excuse making.

Perhaps the ultimate fail was the Super Bowl Game. When JTA could have easily caught a grant to complete the stadium line, they thought that was a bad idea. Why? "Because it would be over crowded and make the city look bad," as if dumping fans from the south side hotels at Central Station didn't piss a few people off!

OCKLAWAHA

Sounds like a massive and severe case of diarrhea and all of us are STILL swimming in it after 30+ years with our own (air pollution) health, (pedestrian) safety, money (tax money), and (precious) time.

-Josh

halimeade

February 23, 2012, 07:10:02 PM
If it makes you feel any better. Portland is currently in the process of destroying a lot of progress they've made with the TriMet system. Increasing fees, cutting lines... needless to say lots of locals are not happy about it.

dougskiles

February 23, 2012, 08:08:52 PM
Sounds like the work of a true conservative southern city...always a little behind....like 80 years.

I used to wonder if the attitudes against public transit truly were a conservative thing as you suggest.

Then I saw firsthand the success Salt Lake has had with their system.  Shortly after being awarded the Winter Olympics about 15 years ago, they went to work on a light rail system on an old, abandoned freight line (very similar to the S-line), called TRAX.  After much success and public support, they have expanded the system (and are still expanding).  They also have a commuter rail system called FrontRunner that connects the nearby cities.
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb1.ctaa.org%2Fwebmodules%2Fwebarticles%2Fanmviewer.asp%3Fa%3D2783%26z%3D5&ei=xOFGT5HdOYvrtgeL9P2wDg&usg=AFQjCNGDQstwXxuXGVZnO77an6TDiHGT0w&sig2=RzLVog-rICfc4hdCwoChEQ

And have recently been awarded a streetcar project for a redeveloped portion of town (Sugar House).
http://www.shstreetcar.com/

They have a bus system with the main purpose of connecting neighborhoods to the fixed transit stops.  What it does NOT do is duplicate the fixed transit system.

Now - I don't know of too many places that are more conservative than Salt Lake City, Utah.  I believe now that it is just plain ol' ignorance and shortsightedness that has done us in.

thelakelander

February 23, 2012, 10:33:17 PM
^Did you get some pics of the Salt Lake City system?  They are an excellent model to follow.

KenFSU

February 24, 2012, 09:09:16 AM
For those who have been in Jacksonville for a long time, I'm curious as to how long it took for public sentiment to turn against the Skyway? Was it immediate? Mid-90's? Or is the almost universal bad attitude toward the Skyway a relatively recent phenomenon?

While there was a small group of grumblers, the same ones that complain that ice cream is cold, and ovens get hot, were against it from the start. I was in the forefront of the battle and there were thousands who bought the JTA sales pitch, hook line and sinker. My little group would hear it everywhere: "Why are you trying to hold us back?" "Trolley's are yesterdays technology, we're getting a elevated transit 'just like Chicago!'" "Why wouldn't you want this, in a couple of years, you'll be able to ride 'Rapid Transit' to the beach and Orange Park." "Only important big cities have elevated trains." etc...

JTA had so soaked the city with a confusilated mix of stories, it's hard to believe they were describing the same system. Some of the actual Skyway documents show the Skyway's stations labeled RAPID TRANSIT, while others say it would connect with a rapid transit. When asked about the future, we not only heard the 60,000 passengers a day number but likewise they continuously dropped words such as 'beaches', 'Gateway Mall,' and 'Orange Park.' They never really explained that what they were building was really nothing more then an very expensive airport style horizontal elevator. It should have been obvious, and I tried in vain to draw attention to the fact that riding that thing over the Matthews Bridge (another name that was dropped) all the way to the beach was a ridiculous scheme.

Once the 'new' wore off of it and the public realized of all of the routes they could have chosen, incompetence drove them to build from Central Station to the empty sandy blocks in LaVilla. And JTA continued to hold on to their ridership projections through the planning stages, explaining that people would park and ride it 2,000 feet into town. As the system neared it's phase one completion date, they revised the ridership figures straight down, over and over again.

Guess what? Ask their planners why they've never met a single one of their projections and you'll hear a story about how the city got cold feet and stopped pushing to complete it. You will also hear how 'they were shortchanged' in trying to get the routes built as planned.  The Monorail conversion? If you've got to have this type of system, that was a smart move, although it just extended their excuse making.

Perhaps the ultimate fail was the Super Bowl Game. When JTA could have easily caught a grant to complete the stadium line, they thought that was a bad idea. Why? "Because it would be over crowded and make the city look bad," as if dumping fans from the south side hotels at Central Station didn't piss a few people off!

OCKLAWAHA





Thanks for the info Ock!

If I can pick your (or someone else's) brain just a little bit further, what about the Better Jacksonville Plan? Was that a tough sell to the city? Jacksonville residents have always seemed a little tight on the purse strings, did BJP face a lot of opposition?

dougskiles

February 24, 2012, 09:12:18 AM
Quote
^Did you get some pics of the Salt Lake City system?  They are an excellent model to follow.

I got a few pics.  Not great quality though on my phone.






^This photo was taken at 6:30 on a Saturday night.  The train was mostly full from the Midvale station (where we got on - about 15 miles south of downtown) all the way to downtown.  No NBA game that night, and not the commuter rush hour.


^We bought a SuperPass for skiing at the local resorts and what did you know - it included FREE rides on their system.


^No specific purpose for this photo... i couldn't sleep one morning and decided to go out for a run in the snow.  Very surreal experience.

Tacachale

February 24, 2012, 03:50:39 PM

Thanks for the info Ock!

If I can pick your (or someone else's) brain just a little bit further, what about the Better Jacksonville Plan? Was that a tough sell to the city? Jacksonville residents have always seemed a little tight on the purse strings, did BJP face a lot of opposition?

The Better Jacksonville Plan had the right elements go into it before it got off the ground. First and foremost, it was designed specifically to address concerns people already had (worsening traffic, aging facilities, sprawl, lack of park space, need for targeted economic development, etc), as well as to contain something that would appeal to people all over the city. The administration spent a huge amount of planning time before the proposal was ever announced.

It was also spearheaded by a mayor who'd wracked up a lot of goodwill and popularity, and was able to channel that into finding support for the plan. In addition to that, the administration put a lot of effort into grassroots campaigns and marketing - which was paid for by private donations rather than public money - to hear feedback and get people on board. In the end there was a huge amount of backing, including every city council member and every living former mayor.

As far as backlash goes, there was some noise from your typical small-minded cynics at the time, but the only organized opposition came from the "Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County", a sort of proto-Tea Party anti-tax group that included AM radio stalwart/human spleen Andy Johnson.

Most of the bad vibes some people have toward the BJP now came from later on, after Mayor Peyton botched certain items, most notably the Courthouse. The Courthouse was perhaps the least popular provision of the BJP (though we were required to build one whether we raised the tax or not), but Peyton turned it into an embarrassment.

In my estimation it would be harder to pull off something like this now. The anti-tax element is much better organized in these Tea Party days than they were in 2000. At the same time, though, "subsidizing" Downtown was the biggest bone of contention for BJP opposition, and there are a lot more folks who are really motivated to support downtown and the core than there were then. It would really depend on how well Brown does in rallying people to pull off a big picture item like that.

fieldafm

February 24, 2012, 04:06:10 PM
The Skyway was then and even upon reflection now... was always a federal money grab(and a huge boondoggle of a bunch of adjacent land grabs-one that even Bucky Clarkson is still trying to get money from decades later) that a lot of people thought stunk. 

BJP was actually a much easier sell(it always appeased many, many groups-the characteristic of any good large-scale public works package).

Two things you have to keep in mind about both issues... both had STRONG LEADERSHIP behind it(Godbold with the Skyway, Delaney with BJP). 

Still waiting on Mayor Brown to start kicking it up in the leadership department, and frankly was worried about that a way before the election. 

fieldafm

February 24, 2012, 04:08:24 PM
Quote
^Did you get some pics of the Salt Lake City system?  They are an excellent model to follow.

I got a few pics.  Not great quality though on my phone.






^This photo was taken at 6:30 on a Saturday night.  The train was mostly full from the Midvale station (where we got on - about 15 miles south of downtown) all the way to downtown.  No NBA game that night, and not the commuter rush hour.


^We bought a SuperPass for skiing at the local resorts and what did you know - it included FREE rides on their system.


^No specific purpose for this photo... i couldn't sleep one morning and decided to go out for a run in the snow.  Very surreal experience.

Salt Lake's system is awesome.  Used it on a trip to Alta a few years back and really thought it was well designed.

thelakelander

February 24, 2012, 04:30:55 PM
How is Salt Lake City's downtown?  Does it resemble Jacksonville's in terms of street level vibrancy?  How about its burbs?

fieldafm

February 24, 2012, 04:49:12 PM
Couldn't tell you about the burbs.. but in DT SLC, I saw things such as bicycle parking on the street, food trucks and a lot of buildings that opened up to the street.

Also, it was winter time(but if you've ever been in Brooklyn in the winter time, it can get dirty)... but their downtown is clean, like spotless clean. 

There is a big mall-like contraption there that has a bunch of stores inside(not like the Landing, more like a MUCH bigger version of the Atrium in the Wells Fargo Building) and from what I was told, an old mall was also once built downtown.

But bike parking, people walking, storefronts that activated the street and food trucks were all things I encountered... while it certainly wasn't in the top 10 of downtowns I have ever visited around the country... it was certainly leaps and bounds better than Jax.  And I say that not to be negative towards Jax, as I am certainly very bullish on the VAST potential of this city.

dougskiles

February 24, 2012, 05:16:55 PM
My experiences were similar to fieldafm's.  I was there on a Friday and Saturday night.  There weren't crowds of people on the street, but there were significantly more than you would see in Jax.  The restaurants we went to were full of people (and so were the ones we passed).

fieldafm - when you were there - did you go to Squatters Pub Brewery downtown?  Loved the Full Suspension Pale Ale.

AaroniusLives

March 06, 2012, 03:38:32 PM
http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/viewer.shtm#http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/dot/MCBRTStudyfinalreport110728.pdf

Montgomery County's BRT plan. It's quite comprehensive, although it's interesting to note that in this application, BRT is integrating with existing heavy rail, existing commuter rail and soon-to-arrive light rail.
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