Author Topic: Commuter Rail's Return?  (Read 7332 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2021, 08:06:45 PM »

Re: Gatlin, the rail plan is older, but looking at both your map and the Property Appraiser, if they can extend Big Cypress Drive through where that retention pond is and build the station a little further south, I don't see why it wouldn't fit within the remainder of the parcel that multifamily complex is planned for.

Gatlin is supposed to break ground on the apartment complex this summer. JTA 's commuter rail dream is still 15 to 20 years out at best. The developer's skin the game is now. Unless JTA is prepared to buy the parcel from them now, it will be developed and flipped a few times before any type of passenger rail runs on the FEC.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

WAJAS

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 65
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2021, 09:25:06 PM »
Smart move decreasing the stops. It likely decreases the travel time by almost 10 minutes and decreases duplication with the Flyers.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2021, 09:36:28 PM »
^Also decreases the need for the project at all, depending on what happens with intercity rail along the corridor.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

WAJAS

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 65
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2021, 09:59:20 PM »
^Also decreases the need for the project at all, depending on what happens with intercity rail along the corridor.

That's a pretty good point. The intercity service would likely not be more frequent than hourly service, so a filler commuter rail that leaves every hour in between the intercity service during rush hour could be useful. I don't think the need for half-hour frequency would be there at first though.

I'm imagining something like what Caltrans does with Amtrak where your commuter rail ticket works on the intercity trains as well as long as you board and alight at the right stations.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2021, 10:35:15 PM »
My fear regarding feasibility revolves around the following concerns:

1. There's no density either downtown or around any of these 4 stations to generate sufficient ridership to justify 30 minute peak and 60 minute non peak headways.

2. Sunrail has a lot more density, runs 30 minute peak and 60 minute non peak service and only generates around 5,000 riders a day (basically what the 2.5 mile Skyway was doing a few years ago). Metro Orlando is also significantly larger than Jax-St. Johns County-St. Augustine. Whatever traffic can be generated on the FEC will be much lower than what's been generated on Sunrail in Metro Orlando now.

3. $400 million for 4 stations, two or three of which could be included in a Brightline or Amtrak plan, reeks of duplicate services. One can easy make the argument that this would be just as wasteful local spending a similar amount on the U2C. It pains me to say that, since I'm a huge fan of rail, but I'm also trying to keep it real. For this particular corridor, we'd be better off piggybacking an intercity service (let them pay for the necessary track capacity needs) and throw in local money for an extra stop between DT Jax and St. Augustine.

4. Prior to the pandemic, Brightline operated 16 northbound and 16 southbound trains per day in South Florida. It will be difficult for a local commuter rail system to match anything similar to that if such a service materialized elsewhere. Since this commuter rail dream is so far out and includes so many variables that can make or break its feasibility, it would make sense locally to first address a corridor where duplicate services aren't possible and where a stronger, reliable transit link is also needed.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1439
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2021, 11:02:19 PM »
Gatlin is supposed to break ground on the apartment complex this summer. JTA 's commuter rail dream is still 15 to 20 years out at best. The developer's skin the game is now. Unless JTA is prepared to buy the parcel from them now, it will be developed and flipped a few times before any type of passenger rail runs on the FEC.

I get that Gatlin is going to build, I'm saying that there's still room for the station even with the apartment going there.

As far as the overall concept, this all suggests to me that there's been a more calculated plan all along. This is why they asked for so little money in the gas tax. The idea is that JTA only needs to spend enough to get it shovel-ready and through most of the FRA-related hurdles. So the $800k they got from the feds to pay for this TOD study, plus the few million in the LOGT to plan out the JRTC terminal. I know from people I've talked to that they're working on getting the mixed-use project built on the St. Augustine end at W King.

So the plan is that once they've laid the groundwork over the next 3-5 years, FDOT takes over and integrates it as the traffic mitigation on the I-95 rebuild. It might still be a decade before you can board a train, but I don't think it'll be much longer than that. I'm shocked to learn that they actually really seem to be trying.
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

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2021, 12:09:20 AM »
I get that Gatlin is going to build, I'm saying that there's still room for the station even with the apartment going there.

I'm confused. Where? That's wetland to the south of the apartment complex property. It would be pretty difficult to gain approval to acquire environmentally sensitive land in the back of a residential area and fill it in for a train station parking lot.

Quote
As far as the overall concept, this all suggests to me that there's been a more calculated plan all along. This is why they asked for so little money in the gas tax. The idea is that JTA only needs to spend enough to get it shovel-ready and through most of the FRA-related hurdles. So the $800k they got from the feds to pay for this TOD study, plus the few million in the LOGT to plan out the JRTC terminal. I know from people I've talked to that they're working on getting the mixed-use project built on the St. Augustine end at W King.

Unless they are willing to pay 100% of the construction costs and pay the railroad to be able to operate on those tracks, they'll have to follow the process for whatever type of federal or state funding assistance they'll need. Still pretty early in the game right now. Once they start and finish the PD&E study, where more detailed engineering and environmental analysis will be required, more information will be available concerning the project's feasibility.

Quote
So the plan is that once they've laid the groundwork over the next 3-5 years, FDOT takes over and integrates it as the traffic mitigation on the I-95 rebuild. It might still be a decade before you can board a train, but I don't think it'll be much longer than that. I'm shocked to learn that they actually really seem to be trying.

I'd really, really, really be surprised if FDOT took over a commuter rail project on the FEC....or anywhere in Northeast Florida. Especially, FDOT District 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

ricker

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 451
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2021, 12:43:10 AM »
Much like Lofts in LaVilla, amd the SanMarco Publix, parking can be tucked under. The multifamily component isn't phase 1, correct?

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2021, 06:46:13 AM »
From the article:

Quote
The four-story “courtyard wrap-style” development will have a pool, clubhouse and gym. The building will be connected with indoor, climate-controlled hallways.

The multifamily developments will be built by Summit Contracting Group and designed by Group 4 Design. EnVision Design Engineering is the civil engineer.

The developer isn't waiting for something that may or may not happen 15 to 20 years down the road, that would likely be a big money loser for them. The timeliness are dramatically different but they already have financial skin in the game.
"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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1360
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2021, 02:42:14 PM »
The issues discussed above with the Race Track station typify Jacksonville's lack of long range planning.  By the time someone actually wants to do something, options are restricted or no longer available and/or it cost a fortune to retrieve a previously lost option.

Just a few years ago (see Better Jacksonville Plan), JTA/FDOT could have bought much more accessible properties of larger size (to allow for long term growth as the stations aren't that big compared to what I have seen elsewhere once this concept "matures") for much less dollars.  No need to build right away if the need isn't there yet, but at least you have begun to build into a master plan and assure its feasibility for relatively small dollars compared to its full build out.  If the land never gets used, they can always sell it, likely for a nice profit, so not much downside.

This is also why I think the City is making a big mistake to allow riverfront development Downtown.  Once the land is developed, we will be forever precluded from meeting the needs of a larger city in the future.  It makes no sense to not plan these big public works projects 10, 20 or even many more years in advance, especially when you are in a high growth area like we are.  You can bet the interstate highways were mapped out in such a manner.  As Lake points out, it takes up to 10 years just to engineer and fund what is finally agreed to.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2021, 05:28:36 PM »
^Unfortunately, JTA was provided $100 million in BJP money to do just that for a future rapid transit system. That opportunity was blown and now two decades later, we're still talking about concepts. Luckily they did acquire a few properties and build out a couple of sites that will work in the long term. Two that come to mind are the CR 220 park n ride lot adjacent to the CSX A line in Fleming Island and the transit station site at Avenues Walk, which is shown in the commuter rail concepts Marcus posted. On the other hand, anything drawn on someone else's property is nothing more than a conceptual dream.

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

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1439
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2021, 03:31:56 PM »
JTA's board unanimously approved the TOD study contract.
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

bl8jaxnative

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 906
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2021, 02:40:31 PM »
Downtown Jacksonville didn't have the job base to support a heavy rail commuter line.

Take away 1/2 the works - which is what hybrid does - and it's gone in the opposite direction for such a thing

ralpho37

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2021, 10:13:03 AM »
Jax would be smart to include a secondary route in this study: Downtown - Murray Hill - NAS - Orange Park

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32881
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2021, 01:25:41 PM »
^This route likely makes more sense. Clay has traffic gridlock that the I-95 corridor will never have and there's no viable roadway based solution out there to resolve them north of Fleming Island. On the other hand, FEC appears to be much easier to work with than CSX. That's about the only reason why I can see the push to get something on the FEC up before the CSX A line.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali