Author Topic: Nat Ford: Why Jax should invest in the future of transportation, Downtown  (Read 15832 times)

marcuscnelson

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Yeah, that's pretty brutal for an executive at a railroad ('s owner). For one of the people behind betting on private passenger rail to say that JTA isn't taking a worthwhile risk… oof.
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

vicupstate

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The JAX Chamber annually visits a city to find projects and learn about polices that further economic development with the goal to replicate these ideas and policies in Jacksonville. The reverse also occurs. Cities visit Jacksonville.

While I don't doubt that this occasionally happens, I can't think of any idea or policy that would be extracted from a JAX visit except for 'what not to do'.

The Op Ed writer is correct, the best use of funds for JTA is to remove the Skyway. It is one fourth of what is being asked for to 'improve' the skyway into U2C. I just wish they had done it before they built an entire building around the damn thing.   
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thelakelander

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I still believe the Skyway and U2C are two different animals and should not be seen from the same lens. There are things that can be done to improve it and much of it involves things that have nothing to do with the actual infrastructure itself. The U2C isn't the solution and happens to be the most expensive route to go but that's Jax for you.
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jaxlongtimer

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I keep hearing about how a revitalized system will help move people to places like TIAA Bank Stadium. A system that will have up to eight people per automated vehicle would be able to move 5,000 people (less than 7% of the stadium’s capacity) in over 10 hours if the frequency is as little as one minute! No offense to the Jaguars pre-game activities, but no one wants to arrive 10 hours before game time.

The system is flawed from the start and designed not by users, but by engineers who charge by the hour and have no risk if the project is a complete failure. This is the same process that led to the Skyway to be built in the first place. JTA claims that there is a huge demand for the expanded system, yet only JTA employees stand at the podium to talk about how much the community needs the Skyway. Where are the ridership studies? Where are the focus groups that demonstrate people will use the system? Do we even know people travel between the destinations that have been chosen?

Damn......

Aside from Husein Cumber's wife being on the City Council, he has served on the JEA Board and is well connected both politically and business-wise to the Mayor, Chamber and general establishment in Jax.  For him to write this column says a lot about how little support there must be among those groups for continuing to operate the Skyway in any form, current or with AV's.  He echos many of the comments I have made about the foolishness of trying to salvage this beast.  I have also shared common thoughts about the Skyway's negative impact on every street it runs down.  I don't see any land owner or developer clamoring to be a part of it, just the opposite over time.  This money could be better invested in so many other needy projects that will give us so much more in return.  Time to reallocate all of it.

Hopefully, Cumber is at the leading edge of a group that will finally rid us of this blight.

jaxoNOLE

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Today's meeting is streaming, but there is no participation via Zoom anymore. Council Auditor just pointed out the list of projects is a SAMPLE ONLY as the legislation is written, and has recommended Council changes the language to make the list definitive. Very interesting, as I thought the list was positioned as definitive from day 1. Regardless, it seems like Council is going to rectify that.

marcuscnelson

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Ben Becker got ahold of a list of amendments being heard tonight.

https://twitter.com/benbeckeranjax/status/1392447828946034690?s=21

And yeah, it’s really a serious indictment of the program that a passenger rail executive is saying there’s no purpose for the project, period. I wonder where his head is on commuter rail or LRT as an alternative. Also, he hints at it in his op-Ed, but it should be pretty obvious that no one who supported “keep, modernize and expand” in 2015 was expecting the “modernization” to be autonomous vehicles. And even if they somehow were, a look at the progress that the “rapidly developing” technology has made indicates that they really aren’t ready for prime time, and won’t be within any reasonable period of time.

The challenge in terms of tearing it down is that JTA keeps insisting that the FTA is actually threatening to demand all ~$180 million back instead of just the $40 million for infrastructure (there’s apparently a letter about that that I haven’t seen), and fearmongering that changing our minds would “chill” federal attitudes towards ever giving us money again. They even put it on their FAQ:

https://u2c.jtafla.com/documentation/questions-answers/

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Starting from scratch would involve repayment of approximately $45 million to the USDOT, incur a minimum of $50 million in demolition costs, and create a chilling effect on future federal funding opportunities.
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

Charles Hunter

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It should be simple enough to ask JTA for a copy of any correspondence from FTA / USDOT regarding "pay backs" that may be required.

thelakelander

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These council meetings are hilarious. They are very rude to one another.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxlongtimer

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It should be simple enough to ask JTA for a copy of any correspondence from FTA / USDOT regarding "pay backs" that may be required.

JTA has been a moving target on the deal with the Feds regarding the Skyway.  For a long time, it was $45 million.  Suddenly, they now say $180 million?  As Charles says, let's see the agreements for ourselves since JTA can't consistently represent them.  Regardless, whatever the penalty is, politically, I don't doubt for a minute they can't be negotiated way down or even eliminated entirely after 30+ years of total failure.  I would be curious if JTA has even tried to work that process or how recently they have "negotiated" with the Feds, if at all.

And yeah, it’s really a serious indictment of the program that a passenger rail executive is saying there’s no purpose for the project, period. I wonder where his head is on commuter rail or LRT as an alternative. Also, he hints at it in his op-Ed, but it should be pretty obvious that no one who supported “keep, modernize and expand” in 2015 was expecting the “modernization” to be autonomous vehicles. And even if they somehow were, a look at the progress that the “rapidly developing” technology has made indicates that they really aren’t ready for prime time, and won’t be within any reasonable period of time.

As Cumber was a lead for FEC when they were vested in Brightline, I would imagine he would have positive feelings for passenger rail, generally, and likely its first cousin, commuter rail or variations thereof.  Accordingly, by drawing comparisons between capacity and costs of same and the Skyway/AV proposal, it likely isn't a stretch for him to appreciate the exponential gap between the two in terms of ROI and, hence, his conclusion that JTA's plan is literally, and figuratively, "off the rails."

thelakelander

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Ford just said the JTA will pay $15 to $20 million per year to maintain and operate the U2C after it is up and running.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxoNOLE

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These council meetings are hilarious. They are very rude to one another.

Quote of the afternoon so far: "Thank you for mansplaining that to me."

thelakelander

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Lol, she was right in that she was speaking about her position regarding the Salem amendment.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Salem amendment passes 16-2.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxjags

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I still believe the Skyway and U2C are two different animals and should not be seen from the same lens. There are things that can be done to improve it and much of it involves things that have nothing to do with the actual infrastructure itself. The U2C isn't the solution and happens to be the most expensive route to go but that's Jax for you.

You are correct. Unfortunately JTA doesn't see it that way. Again, I like the Emerald Trail and funding traditional road projects (to free money for septic work), but as with Lot J I am still fearful this may be all or nothing.

marcuscnelson

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Ford just said the JTA will pay $15 to $20 million per year to maintain and operate the U2C after it is up and running.

On what? But I thought the crazier thing was the speech he gave to Morgan:

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I glad you asked that question because while we talk about the U2C project, it is the technologies that are clearly rapidly coming towards us, that are going to change transportation for everyone in this country, and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is being seen as a leader in this actual space in terms of developing autonomous vehicle technology. Our current bus system is operated with bus operators and going into the future we're going to have to train our bus operators to become drone operators, where they will be operating some of these vehicles remotely from control centers. This is going to give us an exponential level of service that we can provide in this community. I think about the senior citizens that will be able to have greater mobility and not rely on the JTA to pick, pick them up when we say we can afford to pick them up or we have scheduled to pick them up, they'll be able to call these types of vehicles and actually get door to door service, is that going to happen in the next few years. No, but the foundation's we are building right now is not just the U2C project for downtown, it's actually looking at these technologies and what will they bring for generations to come. And as a level of accessibility that I don't think, and transportation that we have not even dreamed of.

Salem amendment passes 16-2.

So there go the neighborhood extensions.
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