Author Topic: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?  (Read 2393 times)

jaxlongtimer

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Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« on: January 14, 2021, 04:01:39 PM »
I think years ago there was a thread on this but it's hard to find with no search options for the threads that I can find.  So starting a new one  8).

At one time, there were plans to lay track to JIA (for freight/passengers?).  Haven't heard anything in a long time.  Anyone have updates on that project, if it still exists.  Is right of way at least secured?

Started thinking again about this after the discussion of Brightline going to Orlando's airport.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 06:02:19 PM by jaxlongtimer »

marcuscnelson

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2021, 04:48:07 PM »
Never heard of this before.

Brightline will almost certainly just use the Jacksonville Terminal downtown whenever they get around to coming up here. The FEC line ends right there, plenty of land for TOD. There's no telling yet what their plans are once the FEC line and line to Tampa are complete. They picked Orlando's airport at least in part because the airport planned to build a train station before Brightline even came into existence (as All Aboard Florida). Plus how direct it is to access.

I'd certainly like to see what ROW would be found for such a route at this point, and especially how it would be able to reach existing lines. According to the old commuter rail study, the existing CSX line towards Yulee could have had an extension spur to the airport north of Owen Road. Even if you do that, JIA would probably need to buy a people mover system (could they buy up the Skyway? ;D) because odds are the train wouldn't make it all the way to the terminal itself. Not to mention that the S-Line would likely need to be rebuilt to connect to that CSX line. The only alternative is going off the other CSX line (former A-line), and that requires new track from there all the way to the airport.
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thelakelander

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2021, 05:17:16 PM »
I think years ago there was a thread on this but it's hard to find with no search options for the threads that I can find.  So starting a new one  8).

At one time, there were plans to lay track to JIA (for freight/passengers?).  Haven't heard anything in a long time.  Anyone have updates on that project, if it still exist.  Is right of way at least secured?

Started thinking again about this after the discussion of Brightline going to Orlando's airport.

Years ago when commuter rail was being considered there was talk of the north corridor tying into the airport. That talk died well before Nat Ford showed up on the scene.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Charles Hunter

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2021, 05:18:27 PM »
The North Florida TPO finished a study back in 2105 looking at building a freight line connecting the CSX tracks from Dames Point / Blount Island to the CSX and NS yards off Kings Road. Unfortunately, the NFTPO website only lists studies in the last 3 years, you have to contact the staff to see an older study, like this one (unless The Lakelander has a copy?).  As I recall, there were 3 finalist routes, going both north and south of JIA. According to this Times-Union article from 2015
Quote
The North Florida TPO has been studying different alignments over the past four years and has narrowed the options to three potential options. The report estimates the cost of construction and land acquisition would range from $189 million to $217 million, depending on the routes.

Sheffield said the study sought to “play it safe” in coming up with financial estimates, so those figures probably are higher than what it would actually cost. He said the next step will be to seek a federal agency to take over the study.

The new rail line would have overpasses at Interstate 95, the North Access Road planned for Jacksonville International Airport, Lem Turner Road and U.S. 1, which also is known as New Kings Road.

The Transportation Planning Organization’s study, which was done by Jacksonville-based RS&H, does not rank the three alternatives, leaving that choice open for the next stage of the study by a federal agencies. Sheffield said it appears federal studies usually take two years, though the work done by local study could shave off some time.

As far as I know, nothing further has been done since this study concluded.  Maybe some of our more connected members can shed some light (lakelander? tufsu?).


https://www.jacksonville.com/article/20151208/NEWS/801258655

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 06:37:21 PM »
The North Florida TPO finished a study back in 2105 looking at building a freight line connecting the CSX tracks from Dames Point / Blount Island to the CSX and NS yards off Kings Road. Unfortunately, the NFTPO website only lists studies in the last 3 years, you have to contact the staff to see an older study, like this one (unless The Lakelander has a copy?).  As I recall, there were 3 finalist routes, going both north and south of JIA. According to this Times-Union article from 2015
Quote
The North Florida TPO has been studying different alignments over the past four years and has narrowed the options to three potential options. The report estimates the cost of construction and land acquisition would range from $189 million to $217 million, depending on the routes.

Sheffield said the study sought to “play it safe” in coming up with financial estimates, so those figures probably are higher than what it would actually cost. He said the next step will be to seek a federal agency to take over the study.

The new rail line would have overpasses at Interstate 95, the North Access Road planned for Jacksonville International Airport, Lem Turner Road and U.S. 1, which also is known as New Kings Road.

The Transportation Planning Organization’s study, which was done by Jacksonville-based RS&H, does not rank the three alternatives, leaving that choice open for the next stage of the study by a federal agencies. Sheffield said it appears federal studies usually take two years, though the work done by local study could shave off some time.

As far as I know, nothing further has been done since this study concluded.  Maybe some of our more connected members can shed some light (lakelander? tufsu?).


https://www.jacksonville.com/article/20151208/NEWS/801258655

Found a summary of it!  Scroll down to the 5th slide at the link below for a graphic presentation (dated June, 2013) of the 10 to 12 variations built around 3 different feeds from the east and west to JIA.

While motivated by freight, there is no reason passenger/commuter traffic couldn't utilize these routes (assuming the land is still available) as implied in one of the bullet points.  As all cross JIA property, adding a spur to the terminal wouldn't appear to be much of a reach.

One would hope JTA/JIA/JPA would pick a route and secure the right of way for future construction.  More and more airports are connected by rail to city centers.  Our day will come :).  With "Amtrak Joe" as president, rail will be movin' on up!

https://www.mpoac.org/download/freight_committee/Presentation-MPOAC-FreightCommittee-NorthFloridaTPO.pdf

From the slide deck (emphasis added):

Quote
North Area/JIA Corridor:  Future Rail Feasibility Study

Follow-up of a previous planning study to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a 11+ mile rail line connecting the CSX Kingsland Subdivision Rail line serving JAXPORT and the Port of Fernandina, with the CSX Mainline

Study corridor is approx. 3 miles wide and encompasses lands north and south of Jacksonville International Airport

•New rail corridor will service JAXPORT’s Blount Island and Dames Point Marine Terminals, liquid bulk fuel operations in the same vicinity and the Port of Fernandina

•The existing rail line has 44+ grade crossings, traverses urbanized areas, and is limited to slow speeds due to geometric challenges

•The new rail line will provide direct connection to the planned (2015) Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) to  be located adjacent to the Dames Point Marine Terminal.

The economic development opportunities associated with the new rail line include traversing several large tracts of industrial entitled land holdings as well as potential direct connections to JIA facilities.

•10-12 alignment alternatives have been developed to date, and we are in the process of meeting with the larger property owners, including JIA to discuss concerns and make modifications.

•We plan to carry 2 alignments forward for more detailed evaluation.

[Maybe someone more proficient than I am can lift the graphic slide and post it to this thread.]
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 06:51:47 PM by jaxlongtimer »

marcuscnelson

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 06:57:26 PM »
[Maybe someone more proficient than I am can lift the graphic slide and post it to this thread.]

As you wish:

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

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 07:11:23 PM »
^ Thanks Marcus.  As always, a picture is worth a thousand words  8).

Now, we just need people to move forward with this project.  As noted in the slides, there are many benefits.  The newspaper article said this could be done for a ballpark of $200 million.  This would be a lot better use of those dollars than Lot J.  If only....

marcuscnelson

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2021, 07:35:37 PM »
No problem!

Presumably, if the ultimate goal was to enable passenger rail access, the line would need to follow S2 and S1 or M5, with an additional spur that gets as close as possible to the terminal before a people mover or something has to take over.

Which brings us to the problem. $200 million just builds the line for freight, assuming that there aren't any unexpected cost increases or complications. It doesn't include the cost of the additional spur to the airport itself, the rail terminal (+ either very long walkway to the airport or people mover), the potential cost of double-tracking part of the line (so there's room for both passenger/commuter trains and freight). There has to actually be a commuter rail service linking the airport and anywhere else.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't build the line period. But even if shovels were in the ground tomorrow we'd be a long way from making it possible for people to travel from the airport anywhere without a car or perhaps bus.
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

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2021, 07:42:23 PM »
No problem!

Presumably, if the ultimate goal was to enable passenger rail access, the line would need to follow S2 and S1 or M5, with an additional spur that gets as close as possible to the terminal before a people mover or something has to take over.

Which brings us to the problem. $200 million just builds the line for freight, assuming that there aren't any unexpected cost increases or complications. It doesn't include the cost of the additional spur to the airport itself, the rail terminal (+ either very long walkway to the airport or people mover), the potential cost of double-tracking part of the line (so there's room for both passenger/commuter trains and freight). There has to actually be a commuter rail service linking the airport and anywhere else.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't build the line period. But even if shovels were in the ground tomorrow we'd be a long way from making it possible for people to travel from the airport anywhere without a car or perhaps bus.

If the line were built for freight, it would at least preserve the possibility of adding a passenger component later.  The biggest issue is nothing happens now to reserve r-o-w and its impossible to feasibly do anything in the future.  The Northside is going through a growth spurt and people aren't going to hold back development that would interfere with this concept if there aren't concrete plans or reservations.

I have said it before:  Jacksonville leaders have no long term vision or plans.  It's why we ping pong among poorly conceived developer proposals rather than take charge of making this the best city it can be with a bit more thoughtfulness and civic altruism.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2021, 09:07:16 PM »
That's fair.

So that brings us to the real question here: what happened? It's been five, coming on six years since the study reportedly finished, and approaching eight years since the concepts in that presentation. Is this sitting in a desk somewhere waiting for funding? What exactly can we do to advocate for progress in this arena, especially if that means lobbying for state or federal funding? There was talk in another thread about the need for some kind of "Citizens for Modern Transit" advocacy group in this region, should that be the way to pursue change? Should passionate people create some sort of "transit agenda" of projects to fight for?

I'd also note that the challenge with civic altruism is that it requires civic money. When City Council members are furious about the idea of a tiny millage increase to make sure garbage pickup works, the prospect of asking for big public infrastructure becomes a bit daunting. People love to yell about how we need to move the jail to make downtown worthwhile, but I don't know how many are aware of how that's a half-billion-dollar project.

If I were Mayor, I'd love to package a bunch of improvements like this (Northside infrastructure including these rails, Amtrak downtown, Hyatt exhibition hall, remediation, septic tanks, and so much more) into a single, say, one-cent sales tax and market the hell out of it to get it passed (investing together in the future, no more traffic, etc). But, you know… I'm not Mayor right now.
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

Peter Griffin

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2021, 07:55:36 AM »
I can't imagine it would be cost effective, and anyway where would you get on? Who does this serve? Most people would have to get a ride to the train station, to take a ride to the airport.

Just doesn't make much sense or seem like a route that would actually be useful, or even come close to recouping the costs.

Fallen Buckeye

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2021, 09:05:49 AM »
From a freight perspective, would it make more sense to connect Cecil to rail instead? That area is growing fast, too, but I imagine that a lot of the ROW from the outer beltway could be used. I'm not well versed in logistics or rail at all though, so I'm genuinely curious.

thelakelander

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2021, 09:46:42 AM »
^Cecil already has abandoned railroad ROW. Right now, there's no reason to put rail on it. In the future, if a company built near Cecil that would need rail access, they could get it.
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tufsu1

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2021, 10:23:13 AM »
From my recollection, I think the JIA rail loop has been shelved because CSX was not interested in paying for it. The primary purpose was to expedite freight from JaxPort to the intermodal transfer centers on the westside - and would minimize freight trains through Springfield and other urban core neighborhoods.   

Charles Hunter

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Re: Railroad to JIA Ever Coming?
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2021, 11:27:21 AM »
^Cecil already has abandoned railroad ROW. Right now, there's no reason to put rail on it. In the future, if a company built near Cecil that would need rail access, they could get it.
I have a vague recollection of discussion about reclaiming the rail spur into Cecil Commerce Center. The ROW passes under I-10 about a mile west of the First Coast Expressway (SR 23) interchange. There are also plans to create a bike trail (rail-trail) along the ROW. I don't know if there is room for both.

From my recollection, I think the JIA rail loop has been shelved because CSX was not interested in paying for it. The primary purpose was to expedite freight from JaxPort to the intermodal transfer centers on the westside - and would minimize freight trains through Springfield and other urban core neighborhoods.   

Thanks, tufsu1, I forgot what happened after that study. So, to those hoping the ROW will be preserved - very likely not going to happen. Perhaps with a potentially more rail-friendly administration in DC, there will be funding that would decrease the financial burden on any railroad company. Of course, if there's public money building it, the line should be available to all RRs.