Author Topic: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville  (Read 13562 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« on: June 21, 2011, 06:01:39 AM »
Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville



When it comes to transportation infrastructure, there are a lot of noteworthy capital projects that our community would benefit from.  However, we must accept the reality that our city is staring at a budget deficit of $65.9 million in 2012, $144.7 million in 2013 and $165 million in 2014.  With this in mind, here are ten quick-fix affordable transportation improvements that should be considered during the first term of the Alvin Brown Administration.


Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-jun-ten-affordable-fixes-for-transportation-in-jacksonville

Noone

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 08:03:58 AM »
Ennis, Nice work.

I'd focus immediately with number 10.
Imagine the coordinated rail effort of these companies in conjunction with the Promised 680' Downtown Public Pier, Baystreet Pier Park, Downtown Jacksonville Tradeport Pier. What a fun project. What an opportunity to engage the community immediately. What an opportunity to showcase our river to the world. What an opportunity to say "Lets get to work in Jacksonville".
What an opportunity to immediately work with an identifiable project with FIND for the next funding cycle. What an opportunity to embrace the Public Trust Doctrine as it relates to our St. Johns River our American Heritage River.

tufsu1

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 08:19:25 AM »
nice article...very succinct and on point

Captain Zissou

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 08:59:14 AM »
The first thing I would do is redesign the Transit Center.  The metrojax site plan blows the COJ's out of the water.  When you see the two side by side, it's a no brainer.  I agree that we need to start promoting and advertising the streetcar.  The development time of any significant project is 2-5 years minimum.  If they started with design work today, they would open their doors for business right as the streetcar was coming online.

JeffreyS

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 09:05:03 AM »
Number 8 is probably the most bang for the buck.  My favorite is number 7 integrate the bus system with a free skyway. The overall savings and increase in use would make subleasing the lower platforms and wrap advertising more valuable.
Lenny Smash

wsansewjs

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 09:08:56 AM »
Can I make a really pretty pretty sophisticated report based on this article that can be printed and hand out to everyone? It would be kinda like an annual report format. MetroJacksonville and all the jazz would be included. :)

Here is one of my example I designed for a mock-up company.



-Josh
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PeeJayEss

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 09:37:16 AM »
That would be pretty cool Josh.

I say bang out #7 this afternoon, #5 over the weekend, and then draw up legislation next week incorporating 3 and 4 into existing road maintenance plans. Those seem so obvious and easy to be almost comical. Then spend your time and energy really going after #2 (such a big ticket and important project like that needs to be done well, and hopefully soon) and #10 (to get the big money flowing).

acme54321

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 10:06:05 AM »
The biggest problem with number 2 is what to do with that conference center.

Captain Zissou

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 10:18:22 AM »
How many conferences and conventions do we currently have that could not be absorbed by the Hyatt or another venue on a temporary basis??  What would the economic impact be of a 4 year hiatus on conventions in Jax??  There will be a few years lag between the closure of the current convention center and the opening of a new convention center nearer the core, but I don't think that should be a deterent to moving it from the Prime Osborn. 

FayeforCure

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 10:20:10 AM »
Thank you for including 4. Simple trees, to make sidewalks pedestrian friendly!!
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toi

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 10:52:51 AM »
Nice article.  However, I disagree that the way forward in achieving shorter commutes is to focus on planning and building mass transit lines now.  Not only is mass transit commuting slower in terms of average commute times, it is expensive to operate, and will reduce other opportunities to invest in keeping older communities vibrant and competitive with newer communities.  We are nowhere near the densities that are necessary to support fixed rail transit, and our biggest difficulty with bus transit is that we are so spread out and low-density that funding enough routes for easy movement around the City is not financially feasible.  Why would we think that these same challenges would be overcome with fixed rail?  Our densest areas of the City are less than 3 units per acre, yet the research I have seen suggests that densities of 8 units per acre is the minimum needed to see a significant switch over from car commutes to mass transit.  Mass transit will only be viable where it is faster than getting in the car, barring some massive increase in the cost of car ownership relative to income such that a much greater percentage of people are forced to go without a car.  The Skyway is a perfect example of that.  It is far faster to get into the car and drive from the Northbank to the Southbank than it is to take the Skyway.   Any fixed mass transit system will have some headways (intervals of service) compared to an individual mode of transit (car, pedestrian or bicycle), which has no headway.  With higher densities, pedestrian and bicycle modes become more competitive with the car, though not necessarily faster overall. 

We could get the greatest bang for our buck by (1) aggressively shaping public policy to support developers seeking to build denser projects in the developed parts of the City, and (2) taking the mobility fees collected over the first several years and directing all of them towards pedestrian and bicycle improvements, including improvements to crosswalks, street trees, and bus shelters, as more eloquently said by Mr. Davis.  There are many gaps in our pedestrian network that could be filled with a relatively small amount of money compared to what it costs to build a new road or rail line.  The T-U recently reported that roughly 1 in 5 of all transportation-related deaths in Jax were pedestrians, yet I would bet good money that the proportion of pedestrians to cars on our transportation network through the day is far lower than that.   We can fix this. 

The alternative to spending mobility fees quickly on a variety of pedestrian and bicycle improvements is to put the mobility fees in the bank, in ten separate accounts for each of the ten mobility zones, until there is enough money to build a road or rail improvement, each of which typically amount to more than $5M.  There is just not going to be enough money coming out of the Mobility Fee to see any near term road or rail improvements.  The funding contemplated for fixed rail in the mobility plan not like what was done in Charlotte or Tampa, where the rail was put in first -- the funding for rail lines and so forth under the mobility plan is simply too speculative to stimulate private investment.  Under our new system, the developers pay into the mobility trust fund first, and then hope that by the year 2030, enough funds materialize for the rail or what have you, plus the government determines to fund the substantial operating costs of such an improvement. 

As to the relative benefits of sidewalks and bike lanes, these have virtually limitless capacity, compared to a streetcar or fixed rail line, have minimal operating costs, and have the benefit of having zero headway-related delay (waiting for the train, etc.)   Instead of trying to collect many millions for capital and operating funds for a streetcar from Riverside to Five Points, for example, how about spending thousands to improve the sidewalk  from the Fuller Warren Bridge to Memorial Park?  If it were roughly as wide as the northbank riverwalk extension (except where it has to be squeezed down to deal with expensive-to-move obstructions or hostile landowners), that would provide much more in the way of capacity than any streetcar would.    Build it smooth enough and wide enough to allow bikes and peds to share, and sign it as part of the riverwalk.  That would be cool and cheap.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 10:57:50 AM by toi »

Captain Zissou

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 11:23:25 AM »
Quote
Our densest areas of the City are less than 3 units per acre

That's interesting.  I was under the impression that Riverside was 5 times that. What would you say the density of Riverplace blvd is? I thought it was about 100+ per acre.

Miss Fixit

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Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2011, 11:30:46 AM »
Quote
Our densest areas of the City are less than 3 units per acre

That's interesting.  I was under the impression that Riverside was 5 times that. What would you say the density of Riverplace blvd is? I thought it was about 100+ per acre.

These posts illustrate how easy it is to skew statistics in a way that supports an argument (no matter what side you're on).  Springfield and Riverside are both more dense than 3 units per acre, but the entire westside or northside would not be.  Riverplace Boulevard is not really an "area" unto itself;density would be far less for the entire Southbank than for that cluster of condominiums and apartments.

thelakelander

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 11:32:14 AM »
Nice article.  However, I disagree that the way forward in achieving shorter commutes is to focus on planning and building mass transit lines now.  Not only is mass transit commuting slower in terms of average commute times, it is expensive to operate, and will reduce other opportunities to invest in keeping older communities vibrant and competitive with newer communities.

Mass transit is actually cheaper to construct, operate and maintain than our current method of building roadways and spreading our limited resources too thin.  That's how we've gotten into our poor budget situation now.

Quote
We are nowhere near the densities that are necessary to support fixed rail transit, and our biggest difficulty with bus transit is that we are so spread out and low-density that funding enough routes for easy movement around the City is not financially feasible.

The style of transportation infrastructure you investment builds the environment around it.  If you want density, you invest in the things that stimulate it.  If you want sprawl, you make investments in things that stimulate autocentric development (which we've done a great job at since 1950).  Rarely to you see density come before pedestrian friendly transportation infrastructure is put into place.  The only place I can think of in the last half century is Miami's suburbs (due to land constraints) and its pretty bad for the pedestrian.

Quote
Why would we think that these same challenges would be overcome with fixed rail?  Our densest areas of the City are less than 3 units per acre, yet the research I have seen suggests that densities of 8 units per acre is the minimum needed to see a significant switch over from car commutes to mass transit.

Based on history, I believe your assessment is pretty off-base.  Viable mass transit isn't built off of an imaginary average density number across the board.  Instead it's based on the systems ability to connect people directly to where they want to go.  It's also insane to expect that fixed transit should be designed to immediately serve what essentially amounts to a 800 square mile county.  For proof, I offer Charlotte's recent 9.6-mile LRT line.  That city is less dense than Jacksonville, the LRT line does not take people all over that sprawlbug, yet it does effectively tie in a number of destinations along the particular corridor it is designed to serve.  So effective that ridership has already exceeded expectations.  The same is true for new systems in St. Louis, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, all of which are also reaping in economic development and job creation benefits that Jacksonville can only dream of.

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Moreover, it is a false hope to suggest that building mass transit will reduce commute times.  Mass transit will only be viable where it is faster than getting in the car, barring some massive increase in the cost of car ownership relative to income such that a much greater percentage of people are forced to go without a car.

Imo, the major benefit of mass transit is economic development and the creation of an environment where you don't have to use a car or sit in traffic for everyday needs.  Jacksonville does not have that now and we're already suffering economically because of it.  As for auto congestion, you're right.  There's nothing you can do to truly relieve auto congestion in my mind, short of calling for a building moratorium (which is counter productive to the goal of transportation investment to help spur economic development).

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The Skyway is a perfect example of that.  It is far faster to get into the car and drive from the Northbank to the Southbank than it is to take the Skyway.

The skyway is an incomplete fixed system that will greatly benefit from elimination of bus route duplication and future streetcar and commuter rail lines that will penetrate neighborhoods outside of DT.  However, with that said, I work on the Northbank.  For a trip to the Southbank, its actually more cost and time effective for me to leave my truck in the parking garage and hop on the Skyway. A side benefit is that the walking helps keep me in shape.  A more viable transit system will extend these benefits to areas outside of the skyway's limited sphere of influence.

Quote
Any fixed mass transit system will have some headways (intervals of service) compared to an individual mode of transit (car, pedestrian or bicycle), which has no headway.  With higher densities, pedestrian and bicycle modes become more competitive with the car, though not necessarily faster overall.

What happens with headways is that you eventually set your schedule according to them.  Nevertheless, mass transit is only a part of an integrated transportation system.  When everything really starts to work, you'll find yourself using your feet as the preferred mode of transportation more than anything else (again assuming you're the type who finds urban living attractive). 

Quote
We could get the greatest bang for our buck by (1) aggressively shaping public policy to support developers seeking to build denser projects in the developed parts of the City,

I agree.  However, a part of aggressively shaping public policy is changing you your policy addresses transportation investment.  The development of a viable mass transit system plays an important role in bringing the private sector to the table.

Quote
and (2) taking the mobility fees collected over the first several years and directing all of them towards pedestrian and bicycle improvements, including improvements to crosswalks, street trees, and bus shelters, as more eloquently said by Mr. Davis.

The mobility fees are set up to actually do this as well as invest in larger projects that have been proven to spur sustainable economic development.  In general, to reach the big picture there are several components that have to be improved and integrated with one another.  With that in mind, how we handle our mass transit issues should be an equal priority to resolving our land use, roadway, pedestrian and bicycle network issues.

Quote
There are many gaps in our pedestrian network that could be filled with a relatively small amount of money compared to what it costs to build a new road or rail line.  The T-U recently reported that roughly 1 in 5 of all transportation-related deaths in Jax were pedestrians, yet I would bet good money that the proportion of pedestrians to cars on our transportation network through the day is far lower than that.   We can fix this.

We can and we should.  The mobility plan and fee is designed to generate money for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.  We need to make sure the pot for them is actually used for these purposes and not shifted to road or transit projects, which happen to have their own funding pots within the plan as well. 

Quote
The alternative to spending mobility fees quickly on a variety of pedestrian and bicycle improvements is to put the mobility fees in the bank, in ten separate accounts for each of the ten mobility zones, until there is enough money to build a road or rail improvement, each of which typically amount to more than $5M.  There is just not going to be enough money coming out of the Mobility Fee to see any near term road or rail improvements.

The mobility plan and fee is already designed to do what you propose.  In addition to money set aside for the pedestrian/bike projects, there is one major roadway or transit priority project for each zone.  It is anticipated that enough money will be generated to construct each one over a 10-year period.  Once those projects are funded, these steps will be repeated for additional roadway/transit projects within the plan.  With that said, since funding will be generated incrementally, there's no reason that improvements concerning these particular priority projects can't happen incrementally.  As for as the initial streetcar and commuter rail lines go, when enough money is generated to pay for their planning and design, we should go ahead and take care of these "incremental" steps.  Doing so will put us in the position to leverage additional funding opportunities that may arise in the future at the state, federal or private sector level.  In the event that this happens, some mobility funds can then be shifted to additional local projects.

Quote
The funding contemplated for fixed rail in the mobility plan not like what was done in Charlotte or Tampa, where the rail was put in first -- the funding for rail lines and so forth under the mobility plan is simply too speculative to stimulate private investment.  Under our new system, the developers pay into the mobility trust fund first, and then hope that by the year 2030, enough funds materialize for the rail or what have you, plus the government determines to fund the substantial operating costs of such an improvement.

No so.  There is a 10-year priority project plan and the entire mobility plan and fee will be re-evaluated in five years.  Before pissing in the punch bowl too early, let's see what happens over the next five years and take it from there.

Quote
As to the relative benefits of sidewalks and bike lanes, these have virtually limitless capacity, compared to a streetcar or fixed rail line, have minimal operating costs, and have the benefit of having zero headway-related delay (waiting for the train, etc.)   Instead of trying to collect many millions for capital and operating funds for a streetcar from Riverside to Five Points, for example, how about spending thousands to improve the sidewalk  from the Fuller Warren Bridge to Memorial Park?

All of these projects work in conjunction with one another.  It's not an either or situation.  In an urban environment, you must plan with a holistic approach and not with tunnel vision.  If you ignore one, two or more and only address sidewalk construction, you'll have a pretty nice yet empty and ineffective sidewalk.  The same goes for the other modes.

Quote
If it were roughly as wide as the northbank riverwalk extension (except where it has to be squeezed down to deal with expensive-to-move obstructions or hostile landowners), that would provide much more in the way of capacity than any streetcar would.    Build it smooth enough and wide enough to allow bikes and peds to share, and sign it as part of the riverwalk.  That would be cool and cheap.

It be cool and it would be cheap.  But it wouldn't spur transit oriented development, it wouldn't bring revitalization to neighborhoods like Brooklyn and LaVilla.  Not saying it shouldn't happen, because I would love to see it, but I am saying that it needs to be implemented with a holistic approach.
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thelakelander

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Re: Ten Affordable Fixes For Transportation In Jacksonville
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2011, 11:34:54 AM »
Quote
Our densest areas of the City are less than 3 units per acre

That's interesting.  I was under the impression that Riverside was 5 times that. What would you say the density of Riverplace blvd is? I thought it was about 100+ per acre.

These posts illustrate how easy it is to skew statistics in a way that supports an argument (no matter what side you're on).  Springfield and Riverside are both more dense than 3 units per acre, but the entire westside or northside would not be.  Riverplace Boulevard is not really an "area" unto itself;density would be far less for the entire Southbank than for that cluster of condominiums and apartments.

Exactly.  Which is why it makes sense to evaluate these things by corridor and neighborhood as opposed to a citywide level.  Realistically speaking all Jax could really use is a decent 5 to 10-mile fixed transit spine that connects several major destinations together.  That could mean that some suburban low density areas may not have viable transit options.  So be it.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali