Author Topic: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement  (Read 27737 times)

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #60 on: September 19, 2023, 05:04:10 PM »
^ To me, your third option is functionally the same as my first option. If you're already committed to a standard modernization and then an independent (but inclusive) consideration of the proper mode for things like a stadium connection vs linking the hospitals and it emerges that a separate system for those things proves to be the best alternative that's perfectly reasonable within the realm of possibilities.

What inclines me to look at Option 2 is the suggestion that we've just never been particularly interested since the initial plans in the actual concept of a downtown APM, given the constant complaints of "why doesn't it go to X," and that its continued existence serves as such a frustration to other transit efforts which might lead one to conclude that ultimately we should let it go in order to enable those efforts. Plus just the additional political and operational challenges of trying to build and operate both a downtown people mover (even if expanded) and a larger regional transit system.

Can this solution be explained as to why it doesn’t work? From the neighborhoods I mentioned, the system would be like 5 miles from extreme ends of one another. To me, that doesn’t seem like it requires a heavy transit solution. As far as the practicality of it, Im saying Id rather do this and upzone/TOD’s than do JTA uber.

Well, is that the maximum extent of a proposed system? People have asked for decades now why they can't take the Skyway to the beach or the airport or New Town, are you proposing now to have a separate system for that? You can, but you just need to really be clear about that, which is in essence what my Option 1 is about. Decide what exactly you want from the Skyway if you're going to modernize it.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 05:34:21 PM by marcuscnelson »
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: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #61 on: September 19, 2023, 05:42:09 PM »
^ To me, your third option is functionally the same as my first option. If you're already committed to a standard modernization and then an independent (but inclusive) consideration of the proper mode for things like a stadium connection vs linking the hospitals and it emerges that a separate system for those things proves to be the best alternative that's perfectly reasonable within the realm of possibilities.

The major difference is the shift from the Skyway to a complete focus on a real public mass transit solution. It's accepting that this isn't a one-size-fits-all situation and not tying the Skyway's future into an area of public transit where it doesn't belong. I believe they are two separate conversations that need to be addressed locally.

Quote
Quote
What inclines me to look at Option 2 is the suggestion that we've just never been particularly interested since the initial plans in the actual concept of a downtown APM, given the constant complaints of "why doesn't it go to X," and that its continued existence serves as such a frustration to other transit efforts which might lead one to conclude that ultimately we should let it go in order to enable those efforts. Plus just the additional political and operational challenges of trying to build and operate both a downtown people mover (even if expanded) and a larger regional transit system.

Can this solution be explained as to why it doesn’t work? From the neighborhoods I mentioned, the system would be like 5 miles from extreme ends of one another. To me, that doesn’t seem like it requires a heavy transit solution. As far as the practicality of it, Im saying Id rather do this and upzone/TOD’s than do JTA uber.

Well, is that the maximum extent of a proposed system? People have asked for decades now why they can't take the Skyway to the beach or the airport or New Town, are you proposing now to have a separate system for that? You can, but you just need to really be clear about that, which is in essence what my Option 1 is about. Decide what exactly you want from the Skyway if you're going to modernize it.

What inclines me to not go down the path of Option 2 is because the Skyway should not be linked into figuring out if LRT, streetcar, BRT, commuter rail, etc. is feasible along any corridor in town or the greater metropolitan area. We should maintain what we already have, as its an amenity paid for with federal dollars. Paying anyone back anything should be a nonstarter. Instead, we need to focus on what we haven't done, which in turn, will simply help all of our existing transit offerings (BRT and regular bus routes too) by feeding riders into them.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #62 on: September 19, 2023, 09:28:15 PM »
I should have clarified it earlier regarding the Skyway, but it ain't going to the beach and neither is anything else set up to run on its infrastructure.

On these forums, we all know it, but most of the town is clueless to this issue. I think JTA had done a horrible job of explaining how different forms of transit work, how the Skyway plays into that and what the Skyway infrastructure can and can't do. People are so confused in this town and it only leads to JTA bleeding the public dry by pushing a very impractical and expensive product, all looped into this fallacy that we have to pay the FTA back if we don't go with the U2C. Only in Jax will we propose taking down the house because the manufacturer of our 30 year old broken refrigerators manufacturer is out of business. I believe its time to replace the refrigerator (something very standard) and move onto building the garage we need. Instead, it seems we're trying to make the new refrigerator be a new house, store food, do laundry and park cars.
"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: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #63 on: September 19, 2023, 10:47:43 PM »
What inclines me to not go down the path of Option 2 is because the Skyway should not be linked into figuring out if LRT, streetcar, BRT, commuter rail, etc. is feasible along any corridor in town or the greater metropolitan area. We should maintain what we already have, as its an amenity paid for with federal dollars. Paying anyone back anything should be a nonstarter. Instead, we need to focus on what we haven't done, which in turn, will simply help all of our existing transit offerings (BRT and regular bus routes too) by feeding riders into them.

The Skyway isn't something we can just put in a vacuum though, is it? Any conversation about broader regional transit that might go to or near downtown is going to start with asking about how the Skyway fits into it, because a transit system is supposed to work together, not be silos that happen to intersect sometimes. And that in part seems to have kept us going in circles for some time. If ultimately we like Option 1 better and feel it's possible to conclude that effort with a clear and demonstrated intent to focus on a new regional system that's fine, but it doesn't seem out of the question to consider the perception issue.

I should have clarified it earlier regarding the Skyway, but it ain't going to the beach and neither is anything else set up to run on its infrastructure.

On these forums, we all know it, but most of the town is clueless to this issue. I think JTA had done a horrible job of explaining how different forms of transit work, how the Skyway plays into that and what the Skyway infrastructure can and can't do. People are so confused in this town and it only leads to JTA bleeding the public dry by pushing a very impractical and expensive product, all looped into this fallacy that we have to pay the FTA back if we don't go with the U2C. Only in Jax will we propose taking down the house because the manufacturer of our 30 year old broken refrigerators manufacturer is out of business. I believe its time to replace the refrigerator (something very standard) and move onto building the garage we need. Instead, it seems we're trying to make the new refrigerator be a new house, store food, do laundry and park cars.

Right, it makes zero sense for people to have to sit on a 35mph monorail along roads with 45+mph speed limits (and probably faster drivers) trundling towards the edges of town. That's a waste of everyone's time and money. But it is worth reevaluating whether it still makes sense for a place like Jacksonville to invest (or really reinvest) in a downtown circulator at all, as opposed to plenty of other cities that have instead chosen systems designed to go through downtown and to neighborhoods further beyond it. In 2015 it might have made enough sense to say that we should Keep, Modernize, & Expand, but is that still true 8 years later? Would it still be true by the time we actually got around to putting new trains up there? If we go on to try and build a light rail or light metro or whatever else, how many times are we going to keep coming up against the question of how it's supposed to work with the concept of a downtown circulator as already laid out?

To use your household example, I would look at it like this: We don't have a freezer, but our rent-to-own mini fridge is breaking down. The mini fridge manufacturer is out of business, but the store's rent-to-own policy means you have to pay them the remaining value of the fridge (maybe). Our spouse wants to insist that we try this new "floating quantum cool-pod" that their coworker keeps talking about. But the options I've presented are that we either get a new mini-fridge and try to then buy a standalone freezer to stack on top of it, or we throw out the thing, deal with the policy and try to buy a normal refrigerator.
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

iMarvin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #64 on: September 19, 2023, 11:29:04 PM »
Yeah, I just don't know if investing more in a downtown circulator makes sense all things considered. You'd need various extensions in multiple directions before it starts to become useful and how much would that cost vs a larger system that reaches more people?

It would be nice to have both, similar to what's in Miami (Metromover, Metrorail, PLUS Tri-Rail) but it all comes down to getting the best bang for your buck imo.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #65 on: September 19, 2023, 11:32:17 PM »
The Skyway isn't something we can just put in a vacuum though, is it?

In the grand scheme of things, what makes it any different than BRT, local bus, intercity rail, etc., in terms of them needing to be coordinated into a regional system. Without a doubt, all modes should converge at the JRTC, which places them in downtown. From the JRTC, the Skyway will play its role as being a downtown circulator, like its siblings in Miami and Detroit or the Lymmo in Orlando. Like Metrorail, Tri-Rail, Brightline, Amtrak, etc. in South Florida and Sunrail, Lynx, Amtrak, Brightline, MCO airport peoplemover, etc. in Orlando, other forms of transit will need to invested in at some point in time to better serve the neighborhoods and suburbs in NE Florida best suited for them. I believe, we're making the mistake of trying to make the U2C/Skyway or whatever also be LRT, streetcar, BRT and other types of systems it was never intended to be.

Quote
Any conversation about broader regional transit that might go to or near downtown is going to start with asking about how the Skyway fits into it, because a transit system is supposed to work together, not be silos that happen to intersect sometimes.

This is where JTA has failed the community. This conversation doesn't need to start with the Skyway. It should start with a broader understanding of how different types of public transit systems are best suited to serve certain type of densities, infrastructure, etc. and how this plays into our region's landscape and existing infrastructure network. Parameters on what things can and can't do, need to set early on to keep things from becoming a circus. When it comes to the Skyway modernization effort, it started out okay but the hell or highwater push with AVs and the U2C have turned everything into a carnival.

Quote
And that in part seems to have kept us going in circles for some time. If ultimately we like Option 1 better and feel it's possible to conclude that effort with a clear and demonstrated intent to focus on a new regional system that's fine, but it doesn't seem out of the question to consider the perception issue.

We can't blow $500 million on perception. Facts need to be introduced for good guidance and sound decision making with public dollars. Right now, the opposite is happening. Some city officials are literally under the impression that this mess is going to reach neighborhoods as far out as Argyle in five years. Completely insane stuff.

Quote
Right, it makes zero sense for people to have to sit on a 35mph monorail along roads with 45+mph speed limits (and probably faster drivers) trundling towards the edges of town. That's a waste of everyone's time and money. But it is worth reevaluating whether it still makes sense for a place like Jacksonville to invest (or really reinvest) in a downtown circulator at all, as opposed to plenty of other cities that have instead chosen systems designed to go through downtown and to neighborhoods further beyond it.

This mixes and forces the Skyway into something it isn't. We should be exploring a ton of transit options and modes, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we have to force the Skyway to play a role it was never intended to be designed for.

There are only three cities (four if we count Morgantown, WV) that have urban people movers. We're the only one that can't figure out how to maintain, operate it and coordinate it with supportive land use policies and downtown development patterns. Yet, the others have already given us the path of how to proceed. We're just continuing to ignore it.

Detroit is a decent example. They didn't tear down the people mover or extend it to New Center to connect with Amtrak. Instead they used a complimentary modern streetcar line to serve that role. Miami didn't destroy the metromover. Instead, they've invested in several other technologies that play their particular role in the region and all of them converge with metromover at Government Center station in downtown. They also got pretty aggressive with form-based code and TOD 20 years ago. As a result, Metromover has become a well used part of their overall transit center.

I'm of the belief that we need to first reevaluate our own inconsistent decision making before having discussions of tearing down infrastructure assets and paying money back because we can't get our own act together.

Quote
In 2015 it might have made enough sense to say that we should Keep, Modernize, & Expand, but is that still true 8 years later? Would it still be true by the time we actually got around to putting new trains up there? If we go on to try and build a light rail or light metro or whatever else, how many times are we going to keep coming up against the question of how it's supposed to work with the concept of a downtown circulator as already laid out?

Detroit and Miami both give us the path to proceed and follow. Have we ever asked ourselves why they haven't blown up their systems for LRT, streetcar, heavy rail, AVs, etc.?

[/quote]
To use your household example, I would look at it like this: We don't have a freezer, but our rent-to-own mini fridge is breaking down. The mini fridge manufacturer is out of business, but the store's rent-to-own policy means you have to pay them the remaining value of the fridge (maybe). Our spouse wants to insist that we try this new "floating quantum cool-pod" that their coworker keeps talking about. But the options I've presented are that we either get a new mini-fridge and try to then buy a standalone freezer to stack on top of it, or we throw out the thing, deal with the policy and try to buy a normal refrigerator.

All of these point to replacing old rolling stock (the mini fridge) with new rolling stock (a normal refrigerator). They aren't proposals to replace the kitchen with a cold storage warehouse.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #66 on: September 19, 2023, 11:40:12 PM »
Yeah, I just don't know if investing more in a downtown circulator makes sense all things considered. You'd need various extensions in multiple directions before it starts to become useful and how much would that cost vs a larger system that reaches more people?

Do we really need major extensions though? I can easily argue there's no real need to expand it other than a less than 1/2 mile stretch to San Marco and sticking a station at the Brooklyn maintenance yard. Outside of that, there are other logical solutions to reach other areas. If you want to get from downtown to the beach, that's likely BRT or spending more than $1 billion on LRT, which would be ridiculous given the low density on the Southside.

If you're wanting to get to Clay, buying the CSX A line and throwing a DMU on it would at least give you a hybrid commuter rail/LRT-like service linking the Rail Yard District/North Riverside, Riverside, Murray Hill, Ortega, NAS Jax, Orange Park, etc. It may cost you $500-$700 million or so, but at least we'd connect downtown with an adjacent county and spur TOD all along the route. However, it still wouldn't be logical to extend it on downtown streets. With St. Augustine and St. Johns County, given the river crossing, some form of commuter rail/DMU/intercity rail on the FEC still makes more sense than AVs, streetcar or LRT.

As we go through this exercise, it becomes pretty clear that there is no one mode that is best suited to serve every part of the city and region. But that's okay, as there is no one-size fits all solution anywhere in this country.

The best thing for us to do would be to look at things on a much larger, regional level and being open minded that we may be looking at different modes to serve different areas, than primarily focusing first on downtown and the Skyway. We've wasted more than 20 years talking about this, so its logical now to maintain what we already have because nothing else is coming down the pipeline soon, outside of some opportunities to leverage intercity rail better than what we do today. But at this rate, we're more likely to end up with nothing once the U2C blows up for good.

Quote
It would be nice to have both, similar to what's in Miami (Metromover, Metrorail, PLUS Tri-Rail) but it all comes down to getting the best bang for your buck imo.

Definitely agree. To figure that out, we've got to zoom out way past the Skyway and downtown.


« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 11:50:12 PM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1554
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #67 on: September 20, 2023, 12:03:35 AM »
Still wild to think that Jacksonville once had 40+ miles of streetcar serving 14 million passengers annually.

Bumping this article, because it's an all-timer:

https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jul-ruins-of-jacksonville-the-streetcar-system

Old alignments:

« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 12:05:51 AM by Ken_FSU »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #68 on: September 20, 2023, 12:08:01 AM »
^It's a damn shame, but it did happen to most cities. For those who want to make the Skyway something it has never been, the conversion of it into some form of light weight streetcar or tram is about as good of an alternative option that we'll get. Like the U2C, it would also need to run in dedicated lanes or ROW at street level to be most efficient and reliable. However, even it won't be a solution to get to Town Center, Roosevelt Square, Gateway, the airport, etc.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1554
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #69 on: September 20, 2023, 12:41:26 AM »
^It's a damn shame, but it did happen to most cities. For those who want to make the Skyway something it has never been, the conversion of it into some form of light weight streetcar or tram is about as good of an alternative option that we'll get. Like the U2C, it would also need to run in dedicated lanes or ROW at street level to be most efficient and reliable. However, even it won't be a solution to get to Town Center, Roosevelt Square, Gateway, the airport, etc.

Others might disagree, but I personally think that an easily accessible at-grade urban streetcar line would be the smartest transportation investment possible, and something that truly could be a bit of a silver bullet for downtown Jacksonville.

Assuming that the new stadium deal is approved with mixed use, and assuming the Four Seasons now under construction is completed, and assuming that MOSH 2.0 moves forward with their plans on the Northbank, and assuming that the Shipyards East park under design is competed, and assuming that something happens at Ford on Bay, and assuming that Riverfront Plaza comes to fruition, and assuming that the multi block Pearl project is completed and some of the NoCo projects are built, and assuming that the new McCoys Creek Park/Whole Foods/Mixed Use development is completed, and assuming the RAM Expansion/Skate Park gets built, and assuming the Related/Restaurant project is completed, and assuming that someone at City Hall notices that Friendship Park has been closed since the failed assassination attempt on President Reagan, and assuming RiversEdge continues through to completion, and assuming UF builds a campus, you’ve got a lot of potential development connected by nothing but surface lots and grass fields.

Having a cohesive streetcar system providing a link from the CBD to the stadium, or from Whole Foods to the Southbank apartments, or from Noco to Shipyards East, or from Springfield/Brooklyn to Riverfront Park, or from Four Seasons to Five Points, would really start to create some synergy and encourage infill development/TOD in ways that the existing Skyway or Clown Car Alley never will for logistical or perception-based reasons.

People love streetcar. I genuinely believe they’d use it and it would spur additional development if the plan was right.

For better or worse, it feels like the bloom has been off the rose for the existing Skyway for decades, and the average Jaxon (and average downtown worker) views it as a sad, dirty, failed meme and just isn’t ever going to use it, no matter what changes are made to it.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 12:47:27 AM by Ken_FSU »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #70 on: September 20, 2023, 06:47:55 AM »
^Then a conversion of the Skyway into a light weight streetcar or tram would be worth considering instead of the U2C or else it's never getting across the river and over any freight railroad tracks at grade, for anything close to a respectable cost. If that were on the table instead of the U2C, without a doubt, I do believe more of the city would be in support. Something proven that costs the same (or less) than the U2C, but moves more people and stimulates TOD. However, the reality is, even then, we've only addressed downtown and have still ignored the lion's share of the city and urban core, meaning it would also suffer from low ridership for the foreseeablefuture, just like most of the newer streetcar lines in the country.

Metromover and Metrorail were both viewed in a similar negative fashion in Miami. Metrorail used to be called Metrofail. Getting aggressive with TOD around their existing transit stations since 2000 have been game changers for both of those systems. They'll never have a city wide at grade streetcar or LRT, but that's okay. They've learned to utilize their existing assets.

Same goes for Charlotte, San Diego and St. Louis. Those are cities that implemented starter LRT lines along old freight rail corridors. What we see in those systems now, is the result of what took place 15 to 30 years since their initial implementation. So if we took their approach, we'd be looking at a starter LRT segment along the S-Line (ripping out and rebuilding multiuse trail) or a DMU-type line along the CSX A or FEC. Something totally different from the Skyway and low ridership small complimentary streetcar lines (excluding San Diego, which runs heritage trolleys on their LRT lines and LRT/DMUs on active freight lines) these cities have also built.

Jax's physical layout presents us with some challenges that many cities we compare ourselves with (Charlotte, OKC, Houston, etc.) don't have. Crossing the river and getting up over the FEC are two of them. Not being able to get dedicated ROW on FDOT maintained streets are another. On the other hand, we do have some infrastructure assets that most also don't have. Our rail network and Skyway structure are two of them.

I do believe JTA got off on the right track, when looking into the Skyway modernization effort years ago. The support was there at the time. They've just settled on the one silly thing (the U2C) that will possibly ruin all future transit investment locally for decades to come.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 07:24:53 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jax_Developer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 443
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #71 on: September 20, 2023, 09:20:12 AM »
Thanks for the insight everyone. I tend to agree with Lake on the idea that the existing Skyway system really doesn't need a crazy expansion to it to make it exponentially more functional as a downtown people mover.. of course this requires upzoning but I believe that the upzoning could be justified with a DT transit option moving forward. The only other extension I would add Lake is maybe to the stadium area. I feel like that could function better than the current bus shuttle method they have now. People would pay higher fares for Jags games, concerts, and Jumbo Shirmp/Ice Men games. Logistics wise this might be impossible though.

To clarify though Marcus, I think the skyway needs to be brought to Brooklyn, and San Marco proper to make it much more practical. I live right by a station, and it really doesn't offer any advantages as-is and I have tried to use it when it makes sense to. I don't think the existing skyway should ever connect to a greater system outside of downtown. I have always thought to myself that we need an expanded skyway to tie into regional transit stations. (Beach Line & St. Augustine Line for example). It seems impossible (for many reasons) to have all the regional rail lines feed into Osborne in the medium-term as much as I want to see it happen.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34654
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #72 on: September 20, 2023, 09:33:38 AM »
Thanks for the insight everyone. I tend to agree with Lake on the idea that the existing Skyway system really doesn't need a crazy expansion to it to make it exponentially more functional as a downtown people mover.. of course this requires upzoning but I believe that the upzoning could be justified with a DT transit option moving forward. The only other extension I would add Lake is maybe to the stadium area. I feel like that could function better than the current bus shuttle method they have now. People would pay higher fares for Jags games, concerts, and Jumbo Shirmp/Ice Men games. Logistics wise this might be impossible though.

I agree that something needs to go to the stadium. The Skyway could be an option. However, getting to the stadium may not mean going down Bay Street at grade. I think we have to be open to looking into other alignments that also work best for the downtown businesses that can't afford to lose on-street parking.

Quote
To clarify though Marcus, I think the skyway needs to be brought to Brooklyn, and San Marco proper to make it much more practical. I live right by a station, and it really doesn't offer any advantages as-is and I have tried to use it when it makes sense to. I don't think the existing skyway should ever connect to a greater system outside of downtown. I have always thought to myself that we need an expanded skyway to tie into regional transit stations. (Beach Line & St. Augustine Line for example). It seems impossible (for many reasons) to have all the regional rail lines feed into Osborne in the medium-term as much as I want to see it happen.

San Marco and Brooklyn are the two most logical expansions. Brooklyn is a no brainer that should have been done a decade ago. You really need it to get over the tracks in San Marco. That's the most cost effective grade separated solution we can do to better connect that neighborhood with downtown. We've known this for +20 years now. Nothing in this town (i.e. the location of the river and FEC railroad tracks) is changing that won't require bridges to get around these barriers. So the Skyway is an asset, no matter what people think about its image. Those two segments are so short that they won't cost anywhere close to what JTA is going to attempt taxpayers to pay for the U2C.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 09:39:05 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

iMarvin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #73 on: September 20, 2023, 10:37:18 AM »
Yeah, I just don't know if investing more in a downtown circulator makes sense all things considered. You'd need various extensions in multiple directions before it starts to become useful and how much would that cost vs a larger system that reaches more people?

Do we really need major extensions though? I can easily argue there's no real need to expand it other than a less than 1/2 mile stretch to San Marco and sticking a station at the Brooklyn maintenance yard. Outside of that, there are other logical solutions to reach other areas. If you want to get from downtown to the beach, that's likely BRT or spending more than $1 billion on LRT, which would be ridiculous given the low density on the Southside.

If you're wanting to get to Clay, buying the CSX A line and throwing a DMU on it would at least give you a hybrid commuter rail/LRT-like service linking the Rail Yard District/North Riverside, Riverside, Murray Hill, Ortega, NAS Jax, Orange Park, etc. It may cost you $500-$700 million or so, but at least we'd connect downtown with an adjacent county and spur TOD all along the route. However, it still wouldn't be logical to extend it on downtown streets. With St. Augustine and St. Johns County, given the river crossing, some form of commuter rail/DMU/intercity rail on the FEC still makes more sense than AVs, streetcar or LRT.

As we go through this exercise, it becomes pretty clear that there is no one mode that is best suited to serve every part of the city and region. But that's okay, as there is no one-size fits all solution anywhere in this country.

The best thing for us to do would be to look at things on a much larger, regional level and being open minded that we may be looking at different modes to serve different areas, than primarily focusing first on downtown and the Skyway. We've wasted more than 20 years talking about this, so its logical now to maintain what we already have because nothing else is coming down the pipeline soon, outside of some opportunities to leverage intercity rail better than what we do today. But at this rate, we're more likely to end up with nothing once the U2C blows up for good.

The smaller San Marco and Brooklyn extensions should've happened years ago, I agree. I mainly was talking about getting to the stadium as the major extension. In that case, any plan would hopefully include future plans to connect to Arlington via the Mathews (decades away, I know) and the Skyway is obviously not the best mode for a route like that.

I think when looking at a more regional plan, the easiest corridor to start with is the S-Line. City-owned ROW through a neglected part of town with tons of areas for redevelopment potential. No major outside parties to deal with. Could potentially be the cheapest option as well. Convincing CSX to sell the A-Line or waiting for FEC to allow JTA to use their tracks is going to slow down the process. 

Jax_Developer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 443
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #74 on: September 20, 2023, 10:49:55 AM »
Matthews & Hart Bridge make me oof.. do all that work for such a long span and only make it 4 lanes wide.. no forward thinking there.