While the region is traditionally a sprawling, car-centric community, Downtown Jacksonville is in the midst of a renaissance into a major multi-modal transportation hub. A $50 million regional transportation center opened in Spring 2020, and a $350 million innovation corridor is in the works. Outdated bridge ramps are coming down while road diets and one-way to two-way street conversions are in the works. Additionally, bike-ped loops, riverwalk enhancements and greenways are being constructed to allow the community to take better advantage of Downtown’s waterways and amenities. As the community grows and changes, our focus is on sustainable infrastructure that is economical and resource-friendly far into the future.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is transforming downtown mobility with the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C). U2C is a multi-phased program aimed at converting and expanding the automated people mover (Skyway) into an autonomous vehicle (AV) network. By transforming the current Skyway, extending the reach within the urban core through the Bay Street Innovation Corridor and expanding beyond into adjacent neighborhoods, U2C supports the vision of a vibrant, revitalized and better-connected Downtown Jacksonville. Find out how we’re bridging destinations on both sides of the St. Johns River.
Artist Walk: Another trail segment entails two previously approved projects, which provide a critical connection from the Northbank Riverwalk to the Southbank Riverwalk within the FDOT right-of-way. The first project is the Artist Walk linear park space under the Fuller Warren Bridge from the St. Johns River across Riverside Avenue, Park Street, and College Street, ending at Riverside Park. The Artist Walk will include the multi-use trail connection, parking, pedestrian corridors, landscaping and other park amenities. It will support the Riverside Arts Market, which has been open between the river and Riverside Avenue since 2009, and a much needed public space for the COJ.
Fuller Warren Bridge: The second project is a shared-use path along the south side of the Fuller Warren Bridge from the Artist Walk to the exit ramp at Palm Avenue in San Marco. A bridge ramp is proposed leading from the Artist Walk onto the shared-use path. And in San Marco, the path will connect to the Southbank Riverwalk and planned Nira Street loop.
This 50-mile trail project is proposed to be an exciting East Coast Greenway trail development. Jacksonville leaders have asked for the loop to be added to the Greenway’s spine route, which would connect the East Coast Greenway to Downtown Jacksonville. The trail will enhance developments along the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. It will connect major industrial and business redevelopment areas of the city near the TIAA Bank Field Stadium while supporting long-desired community enhancement and redevelopment efforts in some of Jacksonville’s older neighborhoods.
In Spring 2019, Jacksonville City Council approved Groundwork Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail Master Plan to create a 30-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails that will connect Downtown to 14 historic neighborhoods, 18 schools, two colleges and nearly 30 parks. Phase one is a 1.3-mile “Model Project” to connect the existing S-Line Rail Trail in Springfield to the McCoys Creek Greenway and Park Street. The Emerald Trail network is estimated to cost $31 million, plus land acquisition, and take 10 years to complete.
The first phase of the Emerald Trail is the Model Project, the 1.3-mile connection between the south end of the existing S-Line Rail Link to the intersection of Park Street and Stonewall Street, near the Convention Center. The concept of the model project is to quickly build a portion of the trail that will be highly utilized and will offer the community a tangible example of what the finished Emerald Trail can be. The Model Project design is nearing completion and construction will begin fall 2020. The Model Project is expected to be complete fall 2021.
Launched in 2015, the $151.8 million First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) connects Jacksonville’s Northside, Southside and Beaches. The newest East Corridor to the Beaches added 18.5-mile to the network and launched in December 2018. This spring, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) received a $16.6 million Capital Investment Grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the final 12.9- mile line which will connect Downtown to Orange Park. The full system will be completed by the end of 2020, creating a 57-mile network connecting the region to the JRTC and Downtown.
In the Sports & Entertainment District, a large portion of the elevated Hart Bridge ramp connector is currently being removed to bring the expressway down the street level to open up parcels on and near the St. Johns River for redevelopment. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Previously envisioned by the City of Jacksonville within the proposal for the 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the Hogan Street Connector provides a missing connection between the Hogan Creek Greenway trail and the Northbank Riverwalk. The proposed trail begins on the northern end at Hogans Creek and interacts with the Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) campus as a shared-use street. The Hogan Street segment within Downtown will become an elevated cycle track along the west side of Hogan Street adjacent to the pedestrian sidewalk. The one-way roadway of Hogan Street will be modified to remove one of the two travel lanes. This proposed roadway modification and elevated cycle track design is proposed from W. State Street south to Bay Street. The suggested design standard of the elevated cycle track is to create a safe and inviting pedestrian and bicycle dominated corridor. The final block from Water Street to the Northbank Riverwalk will have the cycle track and pedestrian area transition into a shared-use side path.
Twenty-five years and $57.3 million in the making, construction nears completion on phase two of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC). Phase one, a 10,000-square foot Intercity Bus Terminal, featuring Greyhound and MegaBus, opened in spring of 2018. Phase two will complete an impressive new multimodal station for all public transit in the region, integrating a 40,000-square-foot JTA bus transfer facility, the First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Skyway/U2C, rideshare and bike share – all in one transit hub.
As part of the development strategy for LaVilla, the current Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing park will be expanded and designed to celebrate James Weldon Johnson and the African-American experience. The park, which commemorates Johnson’s contributions to our nation, will invite people from all walks of life to honor this important Jacksonville native. The inspiration of the plan for the park begins with lifting upward. Historic maps and property lines of the parcel reveal new geometries in the present that are then rotated and angled to create movement within the landscape. The interplay between lifted lawn and the shotgun house placed on the parcel of the historic Johnson House articulates the past on an empty, grassy lot and creates a new resolution of singular space on the site.
The Florida Department of Transportation will remove the on-ramp adjacent to the former Jacksonville Landing site. Work is scheduled to early 2021.
This project provides modifications to existing roadway infrastructure within the Brooklyn Neighborhood to enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity and improve vehicular safety. Improvements include adding a cycle track (2-way bicycle traffic), on street parking, expanded sidewalk areas, reduced roadway widths for safer pedestrian crossings and the addition of street trees. The design intent for Park Street will provide a more multi-modal street within the urban core linking LaVilla and the Regional Transportation Center with the Five Points and Riverside neighborhoods. Enhanced pedestrian experiences will also promote economic development along the corridor. This project will connect Park Street to the Emerald Trail Model Project as well as McCoys Creek Greenway.
Riverplace Boulevard has recently been reconstructed to narrow the travel lanes, provide on-street parking, accommodate pedestrians and bicycles and provide landscaping. The project included roadwork, drainage, signalization, landscaping, roadway lighting, bus stop modifications, water and sewer utility modifications and signage.
The District by Elements of Jacksonville—with its vision for a sustainably designed mixed-use development on a long-vacant, 30-acre riverfront site—will encourage a healthy lifestyle. The development will include more than four acres of public park spaces, including a large central riverfront Park, and will tell the story of Jacksonville’s extraordinary medical facilities through art, exercise, gardens and interactive features. Active water access abounds with a marsh boardwalk and an extension of the Southbank Riverwalk, as well as transient boater slips and a kayak launch site. With scenic views of both the river and the Downtown skyline, this unique setting will be a place that empowers residents and visitors to pursue and achieve wellness in their everyday lives.
Together, the City of Jacksonville and JTA are collaborating with numerous other organizations, including North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, JEA and JAX Chamber on a Bay Street Innovation Corridor to bring an innovation district and a smart transportation corridor district to Downtown and connect the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center to the Sports and Entertainment District. In early 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $12.5 million BUILD Grant to the JTA for this project.
The waterfront of the Times-Union Performing Arts Center, located directly across the river from St. Johns River Park, will be transformed into an interactive multifaceted musical commons. Built around the theme Jacksonville’s Musical Heritage, plans for the riverfront at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts call for a musical heritage garden highlighting musicians and composers with Jacksonville ties, a children’s music play space, and a new outdoor wall projection venue with livestream performances and movie projections. DIA is contributing to the project by handling video production of a nightly projection shown for the building’s riverfront facade.
In 2015, the City of Jacksonville adopted a revised Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) plan for the Northbank of Downtown, which includes a specific project for the reintroduction of two-way street systems within the Northbank. Subsequent Mobility Plan Updates and other transportation projects have consistently carried forward this directive and funds have been set aside within the CRA to begin implementation. The return to two way streets and resulting slower speeds are shown to stimulate economic growth and increase property values; facilitate more efficient use of on-street parking and ride share; enhance retail visibility and promote retail occupancy rates and success; improve walkability and increase pedestrian safety and pedestrian activity on the sidewalk; and increase residential demand and perceived quality of life for residents. Forsyth Street and Adams Street are both identified as streets prioritized within the CRA Plan for two-way conversion. Segments of both streets lie within DIA’s targeted dining districts and their conversion to two-way streets complements other public and private redevelopment efforts. The design phase of this project is underway.
St. Johns River Park, located on the Southbank waterfront between the Main Street and Acosta bridges and home to Friendship Fountain is undergoing a major transformation. Through careful curation, a more vibrant year-round public space will take shape over the next two years. Built around the theme Exploring the St. Johns River, plans for the Southbank’s iconic St. Johns River Park and Friendship Fountain call for a botanical garden, a themed play park, a splash pad, concessions and fountain upgrades. The node will tell the story of the indigenous Timucuan people, Ribault’s landing in 1562 and the Ft. Caroline settlement, and botanist and horticulturist John Bartram’s travels through Jacksonville. Central to the park will be an upgraded fountain representative of the massive flow of the St. Johns and including fully functional dancing jets choreographed to music and lights.