Will the City of Jacksonville Ruin the S-Line Corridor?

March 16, 2010 11 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A few years ago, over a million dollars was wasted by the city on the construction of the S-Line Greenway's first phase. Not properly coordinating with JTA or planning for the future of this rail corridor will result in taxpayers having to fund the demolition and complete rebuilding of this path when the north commuter rail line is implemented. Today, the Recreation and Community Services Department has plans to extend the greenway to Gateway Town Center. Will the same financial mistakes be repeated by a cash strapped community or have we learned our lesson?

Map of S-Line Greenway

Red = Completed S-Line Greenway
Yellow = Proposed S-Line Greenway Extension
Green = JTA/TPO/COJ Mobility Plan potential North Commuter Rail corridors
Green Circles = Potential north commuter rail station locations

Subject: Public Meeting RE: S-Line Development
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 11:18:35 -0500
From: Gaffney@coj.net
To: Gaffney@coj.net

Good Morning Community Stakeholder,

Because of your community’s interest in the S-Line: I wanted to inform you that the Recreation and Community Services Department, will be holding a public meeting on this subject, next week.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 16th at 5:00p.m., at 214 N. Hogan Street (Ed Ball Building), in the 1st Floor Training Room.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the 2010 Florida Recreational Trails Program Grant for the development/extension of the S-Line Rail Trail Phase II.

I hope that you or someone from your community/association will be able to attend.
Have a wonderful day,
Dr. Johnny A. Gaffney, Ed.D.
City Councilman, District 7
(904) 630-1384 ph
(904) 630-2906 fax
**Please note that under Florida's very broad public records law, e-mail communications to and from city officials are subject to public disclosure.**

In 2006, Metro Jacksonville pleaded with the City of Jacksonville to properly develop the S-Line Urban Greenway in a manner that would allow the corridor to include mass transit in the future.  In 2007, these request were ignored and the greenway was built in the middle of the 50' corridor, meaning when the north commuter rail line is built, the bike trail will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

Image by Andrew Jameson at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dequindre_Cut_Detroit_a.JPG

On the other hand, Detroit's recently completed Dequindre Cut multiuse path illustrates the proper way to implement bike trails along former railroad corridors.  By not placing the trail in the middle of the right-of-way, this public investment will not have to be demolished and rebuilt, for an additional public expense, when the time comes to add mass transit.

When finished, the Dequindre Cut will be a non-motorized “people mover” linking the Detroit River, the RiverWalk, Tri-Centennial State Park — still in the planning and development stages — with Eastern Market. A spoke to Midtown, including access to Detroit’s Cultural Center and Wayne State University, is also under consideration. A link to the trail from Hamtramck is being overseen by the group Preserve Our Parks.
Sutherland says that linkage is a long-range goal, but still faces obstacles.

“Another company owns the stretch of track between Hamtramck and the Dequindre Cut,” he says. “It is part of the regional vision to create links (farther north) … but there is currently no connection between the projects in the first phase.”  

Some of the details of phase one of the project include:

• The path will stretch one mile in length, running north and south along half of the former rail corridor. The paved path will be 20 feet wide and will include separate lanes for bicycle and foot traffic.

• The other half will be left in natural grasses and reserved for potential future rail transit. The possibility still exists, Sutherland says, that in the future a light rail line could be developed in the cut.

• The pathway will include lighting and security cameras.

• Landscape modification includes selective clearing of underbrush, preservation of specimen trees and selective planting of appropriate native species.

• ADA compliant access ramps will be placed at Lafayette Street and Gratiot Avenue, at the southern end of Eastern Market. The ramps will be able to accommodate maintenance and emergency vehicles.

• Sutherland says because the Cut has already seen organic development by artists, the DDP supports keeping the area as an art park. “It makes sense to keep it going rather than try to develop a similar concept elsewhere,” he says.

How to design a multiuse path for a multimodal corridor

Mulitmodal corridors allow communities the opportunity to accomodate various forms of transportation, including rail projects that have the ability to spur the economic development that multiuse paths don't have the ability to do on their own.

Moving Forward

While Metro Jacksonville endorses the addition of a multiuse path to the S-Line corridor, past mistakes that rise from an inability to coordinate between local governmental agencies should be avoided at all cost.  The 50' wide S-Line right-of-way is currently a part of JTA's Transit Plan, North Florida TPO's 2035 LRTP (Long Range Transportation Plan), and the City of Jacksonville's Mobility Plan.  As the greenway path is developed, it should be designed and constructed to allow for the integration of mass transit in the near future.

Article by Ennis Davis