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 Outdated bridge ramps are coming down while road diets and one-way to two-way street conversions are in the works.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.
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 a 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 cycle track design is proposed from W. State Street south to Bay Street. The suggested design standard of the 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.
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 broke ground August 2021 and is expected to be complete fall 2022.
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.
The new multimodal station for all public transit in the region integrates a 40,000 SF JTA bus transfer facility, the First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Skyway/U2C, rideshare and bike share, and a 10,000 SF Intercity Bus Terminal, Greyhound and MegaBus.
Investment: $57.3 Million
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. Designed by renowned landscape architect Walter Hood, the park will be linked to 15 other historic neighborhoods and Downtown via the Emerald Trail.
The Florida Department of Transportation will remove the on-ramp adjacent to the former Jacksonville Landing site. Work is scheduled to early 2021.
Partially buried under decades-old development, McCoys creek flows through Brooklyn into the Saint Johns River. The restoration of McCoys Creek will open up the waterway to create a picturesque recreational destination, reduce flooding in the area and remediate environmental issues. Restored bulkheads and creek-side development will allow for outdoor dining, bike and pedestrian amenities and a new kayak launch.
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.
After a seven-month process, a tremendous amount of public engagement and three outstanding designs, the Perkins&Will design team was named winner of the Riverfront Plaza (FKA The Landing) Design Competition. The winning design – dubbed One Park Jax – boasts a central lawn, a destination play space, a river terrace, a park pavilion building, a hotel and sky garden, which includes outdoor dining options, a bike and pedestrian connection to the Main Street bridge, and an iconic sculpture situated atop civic stairs that is undeniably unique and authentic to Jacksonville.
Two acres of the Riverfront Plaza space will be reserved for development.
To learn more about the Perkins&Will design, visit: https://dia.coj.net/News/Perkins-Will-Wins-Riverfront-Plaza-(FKA-The-Landin.
Riverplace Boulevard has recently been reconstructed to better support new investment and diverse community needs. The new street eliminates two automobile lanes in favor of enhanced pedestrian amenities, protected bicycle lanes, improved on-street parking and low impact design (LID) stormwater raingardens. The plan also includes enhanced bus transit and service from JTA, and utility enhancements completed with JEA.
Rivers Edge —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.
This collaboration with the City, North Florida TPO, JEA and JAX Chamber will create a national model for the deployment of autonomous vehicles. The existing Skyway will be converted and smart technologies such as dynamic signals, connected intersections, integrated data exchange, pedestrian sensors, flood warning sensors and power consumption reduction will be installed.
Investment: $350 Million
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 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.