Author Topic: Linking Clay County & the Southside  (Read 594 times)

marcuscnelson

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Linking Clay County & the Southside
« on: November 28, 2020, 05:45:18 PM »
Happy Saturday! It's your friendly neighborhood Zoomer here with another either terrible or actually decent idea.

Every once in a while, I happen across some of the old threads on here about commuter rail or light rail or streetcars (speaking of which, it's a real shame we haven't seen much progress on that kind of stuff). One thing that stood out to me was mention that commuter rail as proposed would present challenges for Clay County, in that people who live in Clay but work on the Southside won't want to travel all the way into DT Jax and then back south for work. This problem happens to also be shared by First Coast Flyer. The primary barrier to solving this problem is, of course, the St. Johns River.

And that's where my idea came.  Luckily for us, FDOT has already done much of the work involved in solving this problem. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into past improvements to the Buckman Bridge and more recently, into the I-295 corridor between the bridge and I-95. Which brings me to propose…



RiverLink. An express Rapid Transit service between the Orange Park Mall (southern terminus for the Flyer's Orange Line) and Avenues Walk (southern terminus for the Blue Line).

What I expect would be the most challenging element of this proposal is, of course, the Buckman Bridge. For that, I suggest the existing breakdown lanes be used to carry the service. Add a concrete strip with yellow paint just high enough to discourage drivers from using it as a traffic lane, but low enough that people who are experiencing breakdowns or first responders could move into it if necessary. That would unfortunately mean either the bus has to figure out a way around the broken-down car, or that service would simply be interrupted.

Once the bridge is crossed, travel becomes much easier. It just so happens that taxpayers spent a pretty penny to add managed lanes (that every time I've used have been close to empty). So, RiverLink would share those lanes. Following the end of the managed section, there are two options. Unfortunately, this is probably the wrench in the works. The first option is to move from the managed lane to the on-ramp for I-95 North, after which one would take the Philips Highway exit and proceed to Avenues Walk. The other is to continue past I-95 and take the Philips Highway exit there, then head north to Avenues Walk. Both options involve taking cloverleaf off-ramps, and I can't say I'm sure how well buses perform in that condition (I suppose adding separate ramps for the buses is an option, but at that point it probably becomes fiscally impractical).

Assuming that can be managed, there would finally exist a transit option for crossing the St. Johns without heading downtown, while connecting Orange Park and Southside in a cost-effective manner (compared to building a new bridge for tracks or new lanes for BRT now). I imagine the headways would probably be somewhat longer than the other routes, but with the advantage of being a point-to-point express route vs having intermediate stops. So that's RiverLink. Go ahead and poke some holes, it's just an idea.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2020, 07:02:37 PM »
I see no reason that such a bus could not run on existing lanes / managed lanes between Orange Park and the Avenues if the ridership could support the service. A similar example would be the I-595 Express bus in Broward County:

https://595expressbus.com/
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2020, 10:00:44 PM »
The biggest challenge that comes to mind for me is the possibility of traffic on the Buckman completely derailing schedules and making it ultimately no better than just taking your car if you can. I realize the goal shouldn't be solely to supplant the car, but trying to avoid this problem is why I proposed using the breakdown lanes for buses.

If you (being JTA) really wanted to implement it quickly, I suppose you could test it in mixed traffic + managed lanes just to get an idea of whether the cost of improving Buckman crossings would be worth it. Maybe it's not, and just having the connector is good enough. I didn't know this I-595 Express was a thing, and it does seem pretty similar to what I was thinking. I wonder if it'd make more sense to do it like this with the coach buses and FDOT partnership than as part of the Flyer. The Guaranteed Ride Home thing is definitely nice.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2020, 11:18:01 PM »
I haven't kept track of the services offered in South Florida but they are running express buses on I-595 and I-95. They use the managed lanes where available but there are times they mix of traffic. I assume they back up there more than the Buckman but I don't know what the delay may be. Denver has one that runs between their Union Station and DT Boulder as well. It uses I-25 and US 36. Bus stations between the cities are located at various interchanges along the way. With that said, I also would not be surprised to see a lane of the Buckman converted into a managed lane (like what was done with I-95 in South Florida) at some point in the future.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

tufsu1

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2020, 10:56:40 AM »
^ A new east-west express service in Miami will be starting soon SR 836 - the buses will use the inside shoulder when there is congestion. Long-term, there are plans for BRT in the median

Florida Power And Light

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2020, 07:40:41 PM »
Anybody here remember Anne Grimes?
Former Jax JTA member.
She eventually moved far away to a place far different from here.
At one time, many years ago,for some reason, I met with Anne.
A consult,we were looking at a map of Clay/ Duval, proposed Brannon / Chaffee Expressway, promoted as much needed Alternate to existing road facility for Clay Commuters.......
Anne put one index finger on the map at the Middleburg location, the other index finger on the map at the Downtown location and exclaimed.....  “ It is absurd to plan on going from here to here twice a day!”

marcuscnelson

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Re: Linking Clay County & the Southside
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2020, 08:16:44 PM »
That's the thing about metropolitan areas, people will commute from even the furthest suburbs if that's what they can afford or where they'd rather live.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey