Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA Study Names Potential Sites for Commuter Rail; Consultants Gave 28 Locations Where Stations Could Use Existing Train Lines

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA Study Names Potential Sites for Commuter Rail; Consultants Gave 28 Locations Where Stations Could Use Existing Train Lines

Article excerpt

Byline: LARRY HANNAN

A Jacksonville Transportation Authority consultant has identified 28 potential locations where commuter rail stations could be built in Northeast Florida.

The consultant, Gannett Fleming Inc. of Pennsylvania, has identified the sites as part of an ongoing $400,000 study into the feasibility of commercial rail in the Jacksonville area.

This study is looking at where rail service could go by using some existing rail lines owned by the private companies CSX and Florida East Coast Railway. The study is expected to be completed in early 2009.

The stops recommended by the consultant go as far south as St. Augustine and Green Cove Springs and as far north as Yulee.

The 28 locations were picked on the assumption they would be the best locations for people to get on and off the trains, JTA regional transportation planner James Boyle said.

JTA is not yet looking at specific parcels of land. The locations are rough ideas of where the train stations could go, Boyle said.

Boyle said there was no guarantee all 28 stations would be built. It's also possible stations would end up being built at other locations.

Other potential locations include behind Shands Jacksonville hospital, Main Street in the Springfield warehouse district, U.S. 23 near Kings Road, Moncrief Road and at 64th Street near Main Street, Boyle said.

The study comes as interest in creating a commuter rail appears to be increasing in the Jacksonville area. Reaction to commuter rail has been largely positive in the community, and several Web sites have popped up advocating the transportation mode.

JTA Executive Director Michael Blaylock has said he believes rail will be coming to the area. He also thinks it's possible that JTA will eventually put down extra tracks for commuter rail in areas where the existing train tracks don't go.

Jacksonville resident Ennis Davis said he was happy with what he'd seen of the rail station proposal but is concerned there isn't enough focus on the downtown area. …

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