A Look at the Southside Boulevard Visioning Plan

April 25, 2014 21 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has a new vision for the future of Southside Boulevard. Take a look at some of the highlights and let us know what you think.

Purpose of the Southside Boulevard Corridor Vision Plan

Southside Boulevard began as small rural road near the Arlington Expressway between Beach and Atlantic Boulevards.

In the 1950s, residential development such as Deerwood and large land donations by Jacksonville’s Skinner family (to support further development in the area) resulted in the extension of the Boulevard southward to Philips Highway. Since that time, the corridor has evolved from a primarily low-density residential community with a rural character to one boasting multi-family development, significant regional commercial destinations, educational facilities, and major employment centers. The Boulevard is now a major arterial roadway (designated as State Road 115 in the Florida State Highway System) that provides significant through service and connectivity with Philips Highway (US 1), I-95, Baymeadows Road, Butler Boulevard, Beach Boulevard (US 90), Atlantic Boulevard, Arlington Expressway and I-295 (SR 9A).

This evolution begins to describe the underlying questions that ultimately define the primary purpose of this Vision Plan – how can the Boulevard be transformed to meet the needs of differing adjacent land uses and their unique characteristics; the demands of the regional transportation network; and the aspirations of a diverse group of stakeholders? These are the questions that became apparent through public involvement and stakeholder input as well as an examination of the assets and deficiencies of the Boulevard.

Corridor Overview

Jacksonville, like many cities its size, has seen most of its growth occur in the age of the automobile. This is especially true for the Southside Boulevard Corridor, which is highly autocentric. However, solving growing transportation demands solely with roadway solutions is becoming more and more difficult as costs and impacts of roadway improvements continually rise. This has led to increased focus on balancing roadway improvements with multi-modal solutions and planning them together.

As a result, JTA is striving to plan and develop a regional multi-modal transit network for the City of Jacksonville. The approach includes numerous components such as a regional transportation center; intelligent transportation systems; commuter rail; waterborne transit; bus rapid transit; streetcars; neighborhood-focused community shuttles; and transit oriented development. Southside Boulevard is a critical link in this planned network and is envisioned to be improved as a rapid transit corridor providing connectivity to major east-west corridors such as Baymeadows Road, J Turner Butler Boulevard, Gate Parkway, Beach Boulevard, and the Arlington Expressway/Atlantic Boulevard system.

Past Improvements, Prior Studies and Guiding Policy

A number of planning efforts and noteworthy roadway improvements have taken place since Southside Boulevard was extended southward to Philips Highway in the 1950s. In the early 1970s the Boulevard was being considered as a possible route for SR 9A, which is now I-295. In the 1980s, Southside was extended northward from the Arlington Expressway to Merrill Road, and widened from 2 to 4 four lanes between Hogan Road and the I-95 Ramps. In the 1990s it was widened from the I-95 ramps to US-1 and extended from Merrill Road to SR 9A.

Since 2000, interchanges have been studied at the Baymeadows Road and Atlantic Boulevard intersections, the Beach Boulevard Interchange was reconstructed as a modern Single Point Urban Diamond, a new interchange was constructed at Tredinick Parkway and frontage roads were provided between Tredinick Parkway and Merrill Road. Additionally, new ramps connected Southside Boulevard with the Arlington Expressway and Southside Boulevard was widened from 4 to 6 lanes south of Butler Boulevard. The improvements that have occurred during the past 40 years have made Southside Boulevard a significant link in the highway system by providing mobility for people and goods in one of the most dynamic mixed use areas of northeast Florida.

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