Author Topic: Solving SJTC's Traffic  (Read 9090 times)

marcuscnelson

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Solving SJTC's Traffic
« on: July 30, 2017, 12:35:27 AM »
So I was doing some thinking and Redditing (a dangerous combination, I know), and after looking back through some other threads about the Town Center, I came up with an idea of a possible first step in cleaning up traffic in the area.

A picture demonstrating the proposal is attached, but the idea is essentially this:

  • Remove vehicle access on River City Drive.
  • Remove parking on River City Drive.
  • Construct a parking garage and retention pond near the back of the property, next to I-295.
  • Using the path of the former roadway on River City Drive, construct a trolley/streetcar (referred to as PeopleMover in the image) system traveling from just above Big Island Drive to Midtown Parkway.
  • Place "stations" at each existing intersection, including the ones removed due to lack of necessity.
  • Construct a "concourse" type walkway/PeopleMover track from Nordstrom to the parking garage.
  • Turn the old parking lanes on River City Drive into walking/greenspace.



So that's basically the idea. I welcome thoughts, criticism, and even more optimistic wishful thinking.

spuwho

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 02:17:49 AM »
Good thoughts indeed.

My line of thinking was solely about getting a new line of ingress/egress to the shopping area without widening the existing road space.

My perspective is that there aren't enough ways to get around the place. Having Town Center Parkway as the sole method is just inadequate.  The biggest choke point is Gate Parkway and JTB.

You have a major arterial feeding it from 2 directions plus the business traffic on Gate is just too much for a single access point.

So my thought is to rebalance the traffic flow by creating a second entry that doesn't rely on JTB/Gate or Town Center Parkway.

Extend St John's Bluff south pass Town Center Parkway between Gate Gas and Baptist Emergency. Take it between Topgolf and the condos along the JEA ROW, built 2-3 ingress/egress points on the backside of SJTC and then bridge St John's Bluff over JTB and connect it with Gate Parkway between the FBI building and the new Hines development.

This pushes "pass through" traffic away from Town Center Parkway who need to reach Gate. Keeps local traffic off 295 for the 2 miles between exits. Permits access to SJTC from north and south points without hitting the Gate/JTB bottleneck.

This will also facilitate north/south flow to Ikea without having to get on 295.



Just my 2 cents.



Adam White

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 03:41:06 AM »
How about:

“If you're going to play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly.”

marcuscnelson

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2017, 11:10:30 AM »
Good thoughts indeed.

My line of thinking was solely about getting a new line of ingress/egress to the shopping area without widening the existing road space.

My perspective is that there aren't enough ways to get around the place. Having Town Center Parkway as the sole method is just inadequate.  The biggest choke point is Gate Parkway and JTB.

You have a major arterial feeding it from 2 directions plus the business traffic on Gate is just too much for a single access point.

So my thought is to rebalance the traffic flow by creating a second entry that doesn't rely on JTB/Gate or Town Center Parkway.

Extend St John's Bluff south pass Town Center Parkway between Gate Gas and Baptist Emergency. Take it between Topgolf and the condos along the JEA ROW, built 2-3 ingress/egress points on the backside of SJTC and then bridge St John's Bluff over JTB and connect it with Gate Parkway between the FBI building and the new Hines development.

This pushes "pass through" traffic away from Town Center Parkway who need to reach Gate. Keeps local traffic off 295 for the 2 miles between exits. Permits access to SJTC from north and south points without hitting the Gate/JTB bottleneck.

This will also facilitate north/south flow to Ikea without having to get on 295.



Just my 2 cents.

This would actually work really well with my concept, because you create this sort of outer loop around the central area, and plus, it opens space for new development while that last turn can actually connect with the parking garage of my concept. Although I'm not sure how the FBI would feel about having a new road go that close alongside their office. I'd imagine the possibility of having to move the bridge over to land on the currently empty parcel on the other side of the FBI from Southside Quarter, or needing to move even deeper into Southside Quarter and work with them to fit the bridge and end point. And my only other concern would be making sure to fit it, considering all the power lines around that area.

thelakelander

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2017, 12:48:37 PM »
A few things to consider:

1. The people mover thing/parking garage basically eliminates the space for the final anchor/retail expansion area. The developer loses money in this situation, as opposed to the original plan, which would make them money.

2. The lifestyle center concept is a move from a traditional mall, that also integrates vehicular accessibility and visibility for all retailers. Removing the spaces in front of the retailers on the main strip hurts their visibility and leasing potential.

3. SJTC is a private development. Public transit is typically heavily subsidized. Who pays for the people mover? How does that impact leasing rates? If JTA, is this a better use of public investment than serving vunerable populations?

4. Same thing goes for the green road. With an overpass over JTB, you're looking at spending at least $100 million, not including land acquisition costs. How are those funds recouped?
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thelakelander

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2017, 12:53:20 PM »
Ultimately, SJTC is considered to be a highly profitable and successful retail center as is.  While congested coming in from Gate Parkway, it still is pretty easy to get there via I-295 from the east. I imagine the developer probably isn't too concerned about traffic or modifying something that appears to work for them. Maybe 10 years down the road, when it's time for a renovation, things will need to change to meet future retailing trends.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2017, 02:17:16 PM »
A few things to consider:

1. The people mover thing/parking garage basically eliminates the space for the final anchor/retail expansion area. The developer loses money in this situation, as opposed to the original plan, which would make them money.

2. The lifestyle center concept is a move from a traditional mall, that also integrates vehicular accessibility and visibility for all retailers. Removing the spaces in front of the retailers on the main strip hurts their visibility and leasing potential.

3. SJTC is a private development. Public transit is typically heavily subsidized. Who pays for the people mover? How does that impact leasing rates? If JTA, is this a better use of public investment than serving vunerable populations?

4. Same thing goes for the green road. With an overpass over JTB, you're looking at spending at least $100 million, not including land acquisition costs. How are those funds recouped?

1. Not necessarily. By consolidating a lot parking into one structure, you can tear up the parking lots closer to the mall itself, like across from Dillards, and open up those spaces to more centralized anchor space.

2. This is a fair point, although part of the idea is that the intersections still enable an extent of vehicular accessibility, while making the area more friendly for pedestrians.

3. The financials of this are something I didn't consider, and I can agree that you're likely correct in this aspect.

4. I'd think that easing access to the complex in general would help in making Town Center more of an accessible option for people to continue shopping, instead of avoiding the area entirely because of congestion.

You're right, it is a profitable center, but also one that's becoming problematic. I can agree, however, that anything like this would be decades down the road as the area evolves.

SightseerLounge

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2017, 02:34:00 PM »
Good thoughts indeed.

My line of thinking was solely about getting a new line of ingress/egress to the shopping area without widening the existing road space.

My perspective is that there aren't enough ways to get around the place. Having Town Center Parkway as the sole method is just inadequate.  The biggest choke point is Gate Parkway and JTB.

You have a major arterial feeding it from 2 directions plus the business traffic on Gate is just too much for a single access point.

So my thought is to rebalance the traffic flow by creating a second entry that doesn't rely on JTB/Gate or Town Center Parkway.

Extend St John's Bluff south pass Town Center Parkway between Gate Gas and Baptist Emergency. Take it between Topgolf and the condos along the JEA ROW, built 2-3 ingress/egress points on the backside of SJTC and then bridge St John's Bluff over JTB and connect it with Gate Parkway between the FBI building and the new Hines development.

This pushes "pass through" traffic away from Town Center Parkway who need to reach Gate. Keeps local traffic off 295 for the 2 miles between exits. Permits access to SJTC from north and south points without hitting the Gate/JTB bottleneck.

This will also facilitate north/south flow to Ikea without having to get on 295.



Just my 2 cents.




This is exactly what is needed! The traffic over there is going to be worse than Wells Rd. in Orange Park! Its already getting there! This will have to happen at some point!

thelakelander

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2017, 03:18:55 PM »
1. Not necessarily. By consolidating a lot parking into one structure, you can tear up the parking lots closer to the mall itself, like across from Dillards, and open up those spaces to more centralized anchor space.

I hadn't factored in the cost of structured parking. Parking garages are pretty expensive. Something crazy like $15k to $20k per space to construct. That's a major reason the center was built with surface lots. A massive garage without massive expansion is a money loser for the developer. This is just something to be aware of, when considering various solutions.


Quote
2. This is a fair point, although part of the idea is that the intersections still enable an extent of vehicular accessibility, while making the area more friendly for pedestrians.

It's (the central corridor) pretty friendly for pedestrians now. Wide sidewalks, diagonal parking, two-lane road, lots of marked mid-block crossings. It's a essentially a remake of a small town Main Street. It has a nice balance, that offers retailers both pedestrian and vehicular visibility and access.

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3. The financials of this are something I didn't consider, and I can agree that you're likely correct in this aspect.

I think, when addressing a private property like the SJTC, the financials will be the largest challenge to overcome. If the financials don't make sense for the landlord and the tenants, suggested improvements won't happen.

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4. I'd think that easing access to the complex in general would help in making Town Center more of an accessible option for people to continue shopping, instead of avoiding the area entirely because of congestion.

You're right, it is a profitable center, but also one that's becoming problematic. I can agree, however, that anything like this would be decades down the road as the area evolves.

But is SJTC creating all the traffic or is the additional development along Town Center Parkway (all owned by different entities) contributing to the problem? If I'm Simon (owner of SJTC), I would not be too happy about funding road improvements to alleviate additional traffic created by Markets at Town Center (Hines), Town Center Promenade (Core Property Capital), The Strand (Preferred Growth Properties), Top Golf, etc.

Also, there are similiar and larger regional shopping centers all across the state, located on corridors with more traffic and gridlock. One thing to do, while considering recommendations, is to conduct a peer review of centers with similiar access conditions. Are people avoiding places like Mall at Millenia, Fashion Square or Florida Mall in Orlando? How about Avenura Mall and Dadeland Mall in South Florida or Countryside Mall in Clearwater?  Has congestion on Blanding and Wells (worse than SJTC) hurt business at Orange Park Mall? If so, how are these places dealing with the situation?
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SightseerLounge

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2017, 03:40:36 PM »
Lakelander, it is about learning from the past and not repeating the same mistakes! That is what is happening at Town Center right now! Millenia is a parking lot! I refuse to go there. I could PROBABLY get into Florida Mall! What Orlando and South Florida have are more tourists. That makes the traffic even worse. I-4 going to anywhere in Orlando on a Saturday is a joke. From Deland to Kissimmee, you're going to be sitting in traffic!

Jax's traffic problems, like Town Center, are the result of poor planning! There are only two ways out of that place! The map with the St. John's Bluff Extension should have been done when they opened SJTC! Even without the bridge to Gate Pkwy., that would still be much needed relief.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 05:49:26 PM by SightseerLounge »

spuwho

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2017, 03:55:24 PM »
COJ funding a special road to promote or facilitate development or improvement there of isnt unheard of.

The FEC overpass for Avenues Walk activated a locked property to WalMart.

The reconstruction of Collins Road for Costco.

So dropping a few million to improve traffic flow around a retail corridor isnt the exception.

The recent 2300 car garage built by Gramercy Woods on Southside cost $22 Million. But I concur that retail developers hate building parking garages. Hospitals on the other hand just love them!

I get the sustainability and all on the road side, but a COJ councilman might see the $100M on a new road and bridge as an investment  to protect a valuable tax revenue source. And SJTC has been a literal cash cow for the city.

thelakelander

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2017, 04:04:52 PM »
From my perspective, adding another road isn't learning from our mistakes of the past. It's repeating them. You can't out-road build congestion. I grew up in Central Florida. Congestion is all relative. I-4 is a parking lot right up until you sit in traffic in I-85 in Atlanta, I-5 in LA or I-90 in Chicago. At that point, I-4 congestion feels more like driving on the Hart Bridge Expressway.  In the case of Millenia, take John Young Parkway and come in the back way. Same goes for SJTC. Enter from I-295 instead of Gate Parkway.

Anyway, the ultimate mistake is most of our suburban areas should not have been designed the way they were. It's a mistake that dates back to the mid-20th century. A popular shopping center and auto congestion in the vicinity is just a microcosm of a larger issue where transportation infrastructure investments and land use policies aren't well integrated to support one another. Adding a $100 million secondary road isn't going to fix the issue and isn't a fair improvement forced upon the developer (who is not responsible for all the traffic) or taxpayers. As the area develops out, it's going fill up just like Town Center Parkway.  The solution is a combination of embracing some congestion, modifying land use to add a lot more density, and alternative modes of citywide mobility, that also tie into the area.

One of the better examples in the state is probably Dadeland Mall. Its accessible to multiple roads and they all still back up a lot more than anything we can imagine happening with Town Center Parkway. At least there, you have the option of not driving there at all. You can access it via two Metrorail stations and both stations have a ton of TOD, giving people the option of living walking and playing, if they desire.
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thelakelander

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2017, 04:27:27 PM »
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COJ funding a special road to promote or facilitate development or improvement there of isnt unheard of.

Why should taxpayers have the burden placed on their backs? Any money spent here is money not spent in other areas and this particular area already has tons of public money being invested in it. This is also a Transportation Management Area that pays concurrency fees, which are actually higher than mobility fees. Essentially, most of these monies go to payback the Skinner Family for roads, sidewalks, etc that were constructed to make the land developable (ex. Gate Parkway, Town Center Parkway, etc.). With that said, don't expect much change in the roadway network or its intersections any time soon. Just get used to sitting in traffic.

The FEC overpass for Avenues Walk activated a locked property to WalMart.

The reconstruction of Collins Road for Costco.

So dropping a few million to improve traffic flow around a retail corridor isnt the exception.

The bridge over FEC was funded by the developer of Avenues Walk to access their property, not COJ or FDOT. There's no Avenues Walk without it. A similar example would be the developer of SJTC paying for their internal road system off Town Center Parkway.

Collins wasn't widened from Blanding to Old Middleburg Road for Costco.  Its widening has been proposed at least since 2000 and the BJP.  I think you're referring to the Parramore Road extension. That's a questionable investment but it's peanuts ($2.5 million to connect the shopping center to Youngerman Circle) compared to building a bridge over a JTB interchange to connect with Gate Parkway.

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The recent 2300 car garage built by Gramercy Woods on Southside cost $22 Million. But I concur that retail developers hate building parking garages. Hospitals on the other hand just love them!

For $22 million, you could build an IKEA store, including the surface lot. If you had to drop an additional $20 million for a garage, there's a good chance your retail project ends up like East San Marco.  Your proforma for that particular retail model takes a big hit, unless you're in a market that can make up for it.  Jax isn't that type of retail market.

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I get the sustainability and all on the road side, but a COJ councilman might see the $100M on a new road and bridge as an investment to protect a valuable tax revenue source. And SJTC has been a literal cash cow for the city.

That councilmember would be ran out of office. Simon doesn't need Jacksonville's help. They're doing just fine on their own. With that said, cash cow is all relative. Has the tax revenue surpassed the surrounding investment and continued maintenance costs in infrastructure, making the area accessible for projects like SJTC? I doubt it. Especially, when an additional $140 million is currently being invested in express lanes to ease congestion in the vicinity.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 04:35:15 PM by thelakelander »
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SightseerLounge

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2017, 04:37:49 PM »

SightseerLounge

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Re: Solving SJTC's Traffic
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2017, 06:04:36 PM »
Quote
That councilmember would be ran out of offThey ice. Simon doesn't need Jacksonville's help. They're doing just fine on their own. With that said, cash cow is all relative. Has the tax revenue surpassed the surrounding investment and continued maintenance costs in infrastructure, making the area accessible for projects like SJTC? I doubt it. Especially, when an additional $140 million is currently being invested in express lanes to ease congestion in the vicinity.
« Last Edit: Today at 04:35:15 PM by thelakelander »

Those express lanes aren't really going to help. They are still on I-295! Adding express lanes just makes the commute a little faster for those willing to pay the toll. It's an illusion of progress. Its still concentrated just in the I-295 right-of-way! Adding a few connecting streets, at least, gives someone another way out in case something goes wrong!