11 February, 2009


Photo Credit: MetroJacksonville.com


"Kind of grabs youby the boo-boo, don't it?"

Stimulus? President Obama? Mass Transit? Sorry Florida, but our state is so out of touch that we completely blew this opportunity. Leading the charge is the "Jacksonville Stimulus List". Lot's of ditches to dig, some drain pipes, paint and a few more miles of sprawling roadways is what we want. Jacksonville, and Florida, in absolute ignorance of the vividly apparent intent of the legislation. SPRAWL CITY, the Nation's largest in land area, is expected to top 3.2 Million persons within the next 40 years. One has to wonder if JTA or City Hall have any plans for transit in this future megalopolis with bus headway's closer then every 45 minutes?

What about our other plans? Jacksonville has a host of juicy new plans and drawings for a comprehensive regional transportation system. A mix of Bus, Bus Rapid Transit, Streetcars, Light Rail Transit, Commuter Rail and our Skyway (Monorail).

Recent meetings have solidified the BRT starter line through Springfield north past Gateway Mall and out Lem Turner Road all the way to the I-295 Beltway.

Recent TV shows have given us a look at the exciting return of Jacksonville's once famous streetcar lines. Routes have been generalized and only the process of naming streets, environment impact and track laying stand in our way.

Light Rail Transit lines, which is to say, an electric streetcar type vehicle of a slightly larger size and much faster, have surprisingly shown up in some of the previously "certain" BRT corridors.

Commuter Rail? Oh, we are simply an agreement in Tallahassee with CSX or a deal between Tallahassee and Amtrak to kick one of our 4 commuter lines into being. Over 90 miles of plans have been drawn up.

Our Skyway has been our poor stepchild long enough, now with this package we have the chance to move it to the Stadium on Bay Street, Across and into the FCCJ Campus in the North side, Into Riverside, and on to San Marco at Atlantic. Oh sure some of these plans are old, but we have them in hand, we own the right-of-way, we have the trains... How long would it really take for a team of engineers to recheck those plans and stamp them approved?

Jacksonville indeed has a bright future if we follow our dreams and take action, using the full advantage of the stimulus package or the one that may follow this first effort.
"Hey, man...
am I driving okay?
I thinkwe're parked, man.
I thinkwe're parked, man.
Oh, shit."

From Green Car Congress:

Responding to a question from a city councilwoman about transportation and infrastructure in the stimulus bill during a town hall forum in Ft. Myers, Florida, President Obama said that the days of just building sprawl are over.

From a transcript provided by Transportation for America:

Not only do we need to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports, our levies, our dams, but we also have to plan for the future. This is the same example of turning crisis into opportunity…Now, look, this is America. We always had the best infrastructure. We were always willing to invest in the future. Governor Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, in the midst of all this danger and peril, what did he do? He helped move the intercontinental railroad. He helped start land grant colleges. He understood that even when you’re in the middle of crisis, you’ve got to keep your eye on the future. So transportation is not just fixing our old transportation systems but its also imaging new transportation systems.

That’s why I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That’s why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient and I think people are alot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that’s not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference.

Does this mean we will get our dream transit in Jacksonville? It CERTAINLY DOES MEAN that if ask, we would receive in this area. With typical vision of our current mayor and transit authority, we didn't bother! NOT ONE CENT REQUESTED FOR TRANSIT OF ANY KIND. Not only us, but for the most part the entire State of Florida failed miserably. So while we have put out the hand for ditches and culverts and paint, we haven't done a damn thing to build up a developable cosmopolitan infrastructure. An infrastructure that no doubt would have created thousands of new jobs in a vibrant and livable city.

"This will mellow you out, man.
What is this, man?
Just take them.
Hey, don't take those, man.
I almost gave you the wrong shit, man.
I already took them, man.
Ho ho ho ho!
What do you mean ho ho ho ho?
Wow, man!
What was that shit, man?
You just ate the most acid
I've ever seen anybody eat in my life.
I never had no acid before, man.
I hope you're not busy for about a month."
Excerpts from Cheech and Chongs Screenplay "Up In Smoke" (A survivors guide to Jacksonville)

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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