Author Topic: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?  (Read 1337 times)

Tacachale

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The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« on: September 27, 2019, 10:56:00 AM »


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Former Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Public Information Officer Mike Goldman exposes the good, bad and ugly reality behind the past, present and future of Jacksonville's Mathews Bridge.

Read more: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/the-mathews-bridge-historic-or-an-expensive-relic/
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?

Steve

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019, 01:24:55 PM »
Good read. I do feel like the decline of Old Arlington over the last couple decades has contributed to this delay.

Snaketoz

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2019, 05:13:09 PM »
I vividly remember going over the Matthews bridge just after it opened.  We were scared to death.  My mom pleaded with my dad to go back through downtown to get home.  We travelled from Arlington to the northside over the Main St. bridge.  It was in the late 60s before my mom would go back via the Matthews.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2019, 09:07:21 PM »
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Partially due to the high cost estimates of the Mathews, Debs said big ticket transportation priorities shifted to finishing and widening the I-295 Beltway to accommodate port traffic along the St. Johns River.

Yep, all the big dollars are going to the interstates.  And, don't forget the $2 billion +/- for the Outer Beltway, our new interstate-in-the-making.  If the Matthews Bridge was part of the interstate system, it would be in line for replacement dollars for sure.

I wonder if it would pay to do just that - take the Arlington Expressway all the way to I-95 via the MLK expressway and give it an I-x95 number  8)?  Might also help divert some of that speeding traffic on Union and State away from the core of Downtown, making the property along those streets more amenable for Downtown development.

Charles Hunter

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2019, 10:13:42 PM »
It would take Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval to add highways to the Interstate, and neither MLK nor the Arlington Xway meet current FHWA standards.  And, since it would be pretty transparent that the reason to create I-995 (or whatever) is to fund a billion dollar project, pretty sure FHWA would give a hard No.

If I remember correctly, there was a study to add JTB to the Interstate system, perhaps as extending I-10, but it didn't make the grade.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2019, 11:38:53 PM »
It would take Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval to add highways to the Interstate, and neither MLK nor the Arlington Xway meet current FHWA standards.  And, since it would be pretty transparent that the reason to create I-995 (or whatever) is to fund a billion dollar project, pretty sure FHWA would give a hard No.

I realize they don't meet current interstate standards.  That was actually my point... bring them up to that standard.  We could call it the "Inner Beltway"  8).

As to being cover for replacing the bridge, show me a road project that doesn't serve one or more ulterior motives, typically for developers.  By the way, some might argue the Outer Beltway is really about replacing the lowly Shands Bridge!

Charles Hunter

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2019, 08:00:11 AM »
It would take Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval to add highways to the Interstate, and neither MLK nor the Arlington Xway meet current FHWA standards.  And, since it would be pretty transparent that the reason to create I-995 (or whatever) is to fund a billion dollar project, pretty sure FHWA would give a hard No.

I realize they don't meet current interstate standards.  That was actually my point... bring them up to that standard.  We could call it the "Inner Beltway"  8).

As to being cover for replacing the bridge, show me a road project that doesn't serve one or more ulterior motives, typically for developers.  By the way, some might argue the Outer Beltway is really about replacing the lowly Shands Bridge!

To some extent, this is true. However, we aren't asking FHWA to pay 80% of the construction cost, as we would by trying to add MLK/Mathews/Arlington Xway to the Interstate system. Due to the declining gas tax revenue situation mentioned in the article, FHWA is struggling to provide funds to maintain and upgrade existing segments of the Interstate system. Some parts of the Interstate, including bridges are nearly as old as the Mathews, and in need of replacement.

To restate the 'gas tax problem' - Federal and State gas taxes are almost exclusively levied on each gallon of fuel sold, not a percentage of the price, like sales taxes.  As vehicles become more fuel efficient, with more and more vehicles not using ANY gas, gas tax revenues are flattening out and declining - even with more miles being driven.  Some states have experimented with "miles driven" taxes, but these have not been widely accepted, in part due to privacy concerns.

bl8jaxnative

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2019, 02:11:44 PM »
Florida DOT is looking to downgrade the Arlington Expressway, not beef it up.

http://northfloridatpo.com/images/uploads/docs/Arlington_Expressway_Study_Final_Report.pdf

thelakelander

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2019, 03:37:54 PM »
That's the TPO and that study is collecting dust like most of them. It doesn't suggest FDOT's views towards the Arlington Expressway in any way.
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Charles Hunter

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2019, 03:54:51 PM »
Florida DOT is looking to downgrade the Arlington Expressway, not beef it up.

http://northfloridatpo.com/images/uploads/docs/Arlington_Expressway_Study_Final_Report.pdf

Strictly speaking it is the North Florida TPO, not FDOT, that looked at rebuilding the Arlington Expressway into some sort of arterial roadway.

The concept has carried over into the "Needs Plan" of the NFTPO's 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan. The Arlington Expressway is listed as "Context Sensitive Solution" between University and Atlantic Boulevards.  Unfortunately, the Needs Plan list does not provide costs, or any other details, of the proposed projects, so it is hard (impossible) to tell what is meant by many of the entries in the Needs List.
http://pathforward2045.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Duval-List-and-Maps.pdf

According to a presentation to the TPO Board in September (2019), although it does not appear in the Needs Plan list (link above),
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The replacement of the Mathews Bridge has been added.  A new Bridge Investment Program has been announced and the Mathews Bridge would likely be eligible for replacement if included in the plan.
Link to presentation at bottom of this page: http://pathforward2045.com/presentations/

Also according to that presentation, they plan to adopt the Cost Feasible Plan - the projects the region can afford - this November.

Link to the 2045 "Path Forward" website: http://pathforward2045.com/

Kerry

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2019, 10:14:02 PM »
At an estimated cost of $1 billion, that bridge will have to fall down before it gets replaced.
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jaxjaguar

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2019, 12:29:57 AM »
Wouldn't it be great to tear this bridge down, build a wider and taller one that included bike and pedestrian paths, and raise the Dames Pointe so larger container ships and cruise ships could make it into the heart of downtown?

jaxlongtimer

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2019, 03:23:32 AM »
... and raise the Dames Pointe so larger container ships and cruise ships could make it into the heart of downtown?

The Dames Point Bridge is symptomatic of Jacksonville doing things on the cheap, just doing things for the sake of doing them and/or not taking time to creatively plan and vision the future or evaluate consequences.

When Dames Point was proposed, it was advocated by the maritime industry here (which then included the major employer of thousands, Jacksonville Shipyards), that the bridge should be built higher than it is to accommodate, even then, the well established trend of ever larger ships. 

But our politicos were in their usual rush to get the bridge built to satisfy powerful developers, such details be damned.  Until we voted to replace tolls with the half cent sales tax, Dames Point was to be a toll bridge and there were concerns that tolls couldn't pay for a more expensive (i.e. higher) bridge.  So JTA saved a few dollars by building it at a lower height just to get it done (there was no I-295 then and there wasn't exactly a stampede of traffic over it until many years later so the rush for those reasons wasn't really justified).

This decades old approach of getting it done fast and cheap without careful consideration of all the impacts with respect to major decisions just so we can appease special interests can now be seen in the current issues of the day such as JEA, the school board referendum, the pension plans and even the decriminalization of marijuana.  As a result, we continue to make boneheaded decisions that limit this community's potential for decades into the future.

If you look carefully, you can find many more examples of this thinking such as the convention center, the Skyway, the courthouse, the port dredging, our rush to demolish our historic infrastructure without any replacement plans, our urban sprawl, our road building in lieu of mass transit investments (which were promised in the Better Jacksonville Plan but never done), even the original JIA terminal.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 03:27:30 AM by jaxlongtimer »

Charles Hunter

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2019, 08:25:40 AM »
The clearance of 175 feet was the result of pressure from port interests, JTA wanted to build it shorter. At this point, I don't remember what they proposed, but do remember the Coast Guard permit was conditioned on going to 175 feet. Note that JTA did get away with not providing full width break-down lanes.

bl8jaxnative

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Re: The Mathews Bridge: historic or an expensive relic?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2019, 11:39:00 AM »

When Dames Point was proposed, it was advocated by the maritime industry here (which then included the major employer of thousands, Jacksonville Shipyards), that the bridge should be built higher than it is to accommodate, even then, the well established trend of ever larger ships. 

One can always find people advocating sometime being done "better".   The thing is, Dames Point has nearly as much clearance the bridges in Brunswick and Savannah.   

The city should, and has been, moving port facilities away from the heart of the city.    The old port facilities couldn't accomdiate the larger ships.  Hell, the river can't accomodate those bigger ships.

 It was good to shift those to other non-residential areas more appropriate for that sort of activity.   

The issue isn't that Dames Point wasn't built high enough.  The issue is that one can always find some know-it-all someplace that is willing to do back seat driving.   No doubt a few of this love to tell folks if the government had just listened to them, Jacksonville would be hosting Chinamax ships.


Florida DOT is looking to downgrade the Arlington Expressway, not beef it up.

http://northfloridatpo.com/images/uploads/docs/Arlington_Expressway_Study_Final_Report.pdf

Strictly speaking it is the North Florida TPO, not FDOT, that looked at rebuilding the Arlington Expressway into some sort of arterial roadway.

Thank for clarifying.  That is an important point distinction.   It sounds like a road diet for the Arlington Expressway isn't really in the works.   Just that our local TPO has it on their radar.