Creating a Better Arlington

August 29, 2012 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Starting with Arlington, over the next few weeks we'll take a look at how the mobility plan and fee impacts specific neighborhoods across the city. Despite being one of Jacksonville's most densely developed neighborhoods, Arlington's roadway network continues to prove deadly for its citizens. City leaders struggle to provide answers to improve the community's safety and livability. Today, Metro Jacksonville illustrates how allowing the mobility fee moratorium to sunset could create a better Arlington.

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 At the time, Councilman Bill Bishop admitted that a pedestrian overpass over the deadly and outdated highway is needed but there is no funding to construct such a structure.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 project’s 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