Author Topic: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail  (Read 4455 times)

KenFSU

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JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« on: August 31, 2018, 08:49:32 AM »
Story: https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2018/08/31/jta-laying-groundwork-for-downtown-passenger-rail.html

Quote
JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail

by Will Robinson, Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal

The board of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority voted unanimously Thursday to approve a grant application that would quicken freight trains traveling through San Marco, where trains have caused long delays, and help bring passenger rail service back to the downtown area.

The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant is a joint effort by the City of Jacksonville and JTA with the support of Florida East Coast Railway and CSX Corp. (Nasdaq: CSX). At an estimated cost of about $35 million, the project would update aging rail and signal infrastructures, which JTA CEO Nat Ford said were to blame for slow freight train speeds through the area.

"The grant would provide the funding necessary to fix the train chokepoint problem in the San Marco area," Ford told the board.

The grant is also a precursor to another JTA goal: getting passenger rail service downtown. Jacksonville's Amtrak station is currently about five miles northwest of the core of downtown.

"This will open the door for passenger rail to come back to the Prime Osborn Center," said Ford.

The Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center was the South's largest rail yard when constructed in 1919, according to the Jacksonville Historical Society. The station handled 20,000 passengers a day at its peak before service was discontinued in 1974.

The city-owned convention center is near JTA's soon-to-be headquarters, the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla. The JRTC is being built to be a hub that integrates bus lines, rideshares, bikeshares, autonomous vehicles and eventually commuter rail.

Ford told the Business Journal that if Jacksonville gets the CRISI grant, a commuter rail station could end up somewhere between the Prime Osborn and the JRTC.

"We're looking at the south side of the Prime Osborn," said Ford. "You'd be a block away from the JRTC."

But, Ford noted, that plan is dependent on the grant. JTA pursued a similar effort three years ago but was unable to get the consortium of railroads and agencies it needed for support.

"This reinvigorates that effort," he said.

A commuter rail line into downtown is essential to the area's development, according to a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute commissioned by JTA. At a public forum in June, one of the ULI experts, Neal Payton, called a train station a "game changer."

"Press whoever you have to press to get that to happen," Payton said at the time.

Ford echoed the sentiment in Thursday's meeting.

"A lot is hinging on this project, and we’re working diligently to bring it home," Ford told the board.

Charles Hunter

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 08:59:32 AM »
Good luck on this grant application!

thelakelander

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 10:44:04 AM »


Quote
The Quiet Bid to Bring Passenger Rail Back Downtown
Though it has largely flown under the radar, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and its partners have quietly launched an ambitious bid that could bring passenger rail back to Downtown Jacksonville, and spark millions in development in the process. First steps are underway with a $35 million federal grant application to update the city's aging rail infrastructure. If successful, the improvements could lead the way to restoring a passenger station at the Prime Osborn for the first time in over 40 years, potentially bringing Amtrak, Brightline, and commuter rail downtown. Could it work?

Full article: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/the-quiet-bid-to-bring-passenger-rail-back-downtown/
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

fieldafm

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 10:56:21 AM »
Although ignored by traditional media... Brightline offers a bigger opportunity for downtown than anything we've seen proposed for The District, the Shipyards and Lot J.

And it just so happens that a major transportation consultant (and spouse of a Florida East Coast Industries executive) is running for City Council in District 5, seeking to fill the office currently held by termed-out Lori Boyer.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 10:58:55 AM by fieldafm »

KenFSU

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 12:58:56 PM »
Great article, fingers crossed on the grant.

Here's the old FEC photo tour from 2007:

https://www.metrojacksonville.com/mobile/article/2007-mar-fec-corridor-commuter-rail-photo-tour

Tacachale

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2018, 02:39:59 PM »
After this article ran, JTA called and was expressed that despite what the CEO said to the Jacksonville Business Journal, they have no current plans for commuter rail. However, if the grant bid goes through, they'd better start giving serious thought to the prospect. This is exactly the place Brightline would come through to get to Jax, and they may come whether JTA is ready or not. Also, given how long the idea of bringing rail back to the Prime Osborn has been kicking around and drawing interest, there will come a point that the city's leadership and the public will will start pushing for it. JTA has a real opportunity here to establish a long-term vision.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

thelakelander

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2018, 03:10:36 PM »
Waiting on JTA for commuter rail is a pipe dream. It ain't happening anytime soon. Considering the limited operational characteristics identified in their last commuter rail study, I'm not even sure it's worth the time and money.

Assuming the rail infrastructure situation is handled, what it does do is open the door to bringing "intercity" rail back downtown. Both Amtrak and Brightline are forms of intercity rail. Brightline in particular, would be key Jax really benefiting from Transit Oriented Development opportunities in the vicinity of the old terminal and JRTC. The reason it would be key is because depending on the location of stations in cities between Jax and Central Florida, it could be possible for a St. Augustine stop. In that event, a link between DT Jax and historic St. Augustine with frequent service could be beneficial to commuter and tourism related land uses around these stops. That alone would be more economically beneficial to NE Florida than the lion's share of future transit talk currently happening locally.

So, the best thing for Jax right now is that Brightline routes between South and Central Florida continue to be a success, thus validating an expansion to Jax.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Kiva

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2018, 04:14:21 PM »
Having Brightline to Orlando and Miami would be great! I know that they had more passengers than they expected in the first few months down south, and I'm sure they would get good ridership from Jacksonville.

Tacachale

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2018, 04:16:13 PM »
Brightline would be big. They also could come whether or not this particular bid is successful, and whether JTA has made any plans around it or not. And if they did come, it opens up even more cans of worms than this JTA proposal. Hopefully JTA is making preparations. IMO, there's a chance that if Brightline comes, it won't be Downtown, as is happening in Orlando.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

Keith-N-Jax

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2018, 06:57:51 PM »
Great article filled with good information. Fingers crossed!!!!!

BenderRodriguez

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2018, 08:36:52 PM »
JTA has been on a role for the past 5 years or so. I hope they get this done.

acme54321

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2018, 09:32:26 PM »
Brightline would be big. They also could come whether or not this particular bid is successful, and whether JTA has made any plans around it or not. And if they did come, it opens up even more cans of worms than this JTA proposal. Hopefully JTA is making preparations. IMO, there's a chance that if Brightline comes, it won't be Downtown, as is happening in Orlando.

Big difference between Jacksonville, where they already own the trackage into downtown, and Orlando. 

thelakelander

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2018, 01:14:18 AM »
^Pretty much this. They don't own any track near downtown Orlando. Sunrail also already serves DT Orlando. The plan in Orlando is to connect Sunrail to Orlando International Airport and Brightline's stop there. I don't see how Orlando's Brightline stop location has any relationship to what may or may not happen in Jax.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Gunnar

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2018, 09:12:36 AM »
This is not exactly comparable, but I have an example from Europe:

First one is the town in Sweden where my Grandma used to live (Höör) vs. the neighboring town (Hörby). The latter decided to do away with its railroad connection and station in the 60s - cars were the future, who needs rail. The former decided to keep it.
Both are only a few miles from each other and have roughly the same population (around 7,000)

In recent years, property prices have increased considerably in the railroad connected town vs. its neighbor as you do not only have a direct connection to the major cities in southern Sweden but after the Öresund bridge was built to Denmark you now also have a direct rail access to the Danish capital and its international airport, whereas if you want to get to Hörby you will either need to take the train + bus or a car. And this in spite of public transport being rather unreliable in the area.

I understand that rail / public transport is not really that important in the US right now, but I still fee it's a good investment for the future. May even help JIA if you can easily reach other destinations nearby (St. Augustine, Daytona, Gainesville... by rail from there).

That's one advantage Frankfurt Airport has over many other airports in Germany - fly there, take the train or bus directly to many other European cities.
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Tacachale

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Re: JBJ: JTA laying groundwork for downtown passenger rail
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2018, 10:20:59 AM »
^Pretty much this. They don't own any track near downtown Orlando. Sunrail also already serves DT Orlando. The plan in Orlando is to connect Sunrail to Orlando International Airport and Brightline's stop there. I don't see how Orlando's Brightline stop location has any relationship to what may or may not happen in Jax.

That's just my own fear, based on the fact that Brightline has exclusively built their own new stations rather than going into old ones, and that's part of their business model. It's much more of a real estate project than a transportation project. And unlike other cities, Jax has given no sign that it's working with Brightline or even preparing for the possibility that they may come here.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?