Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wanted: Trolleys, Bicyclists and Walkers; Jacksonville Beach Should Be Innovative in Finding Ways to Ease Traffic Congestion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wanted: Trolleys, Bicyclists and Walkers; Jacksonville Beach Should Be Innovative in Finding Ways to Ease Traffic Congestion

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - The city wants fewer motorists but more public transit passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists downtown and on traffic-congested segments of Florida A1A and Beach Boulevard.

The recommendation is in the city's 2008 Evaluation and Appraisal Report, a document produced every seven years to review how the city has implemented its 2010 Comprehensive Plan, which guides future growth and development.

Reynolds, Smith and Hills, an engineering and planning firm the city hired for the process, recently finished the report. The City Council will hold a public hearing on it Monday and then send it to the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee for review. The council will meet at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 11 Third St. N.

The report says the city should be more innovative in managing traffic congestion. It recommends a Transportation Concurrency Exception Area, which encourages transportation alternatives such as public transit, trolleys, walking and bicycling in zones where traffic congestion can't be alleviated by road improvements.

The definition fits A1A, which state officials have identified as a failing and constrained roadway. Based on public hearings years ago, there is no political will to widen the road.

Jacksonville Beach already plans to improve A1A with new pedestrian crosswalks and better sidewalks as part of its Downtown Vision Plan. The city has also worked with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority on a Beaches Trolley and to create job access transit services and a ride request service for hospitals.

The Transportation Concurrency Exception Area is a state measure that arose when traffic from redevelopment and downtown revitalization caused cities and counties to violate state rules for providing adequate roads.

To encourage safe and accessible alternative transportation, the city must first adopt planning policies for a boundary study and an implementation plan for the Transportation Concurrency Exception Area. …

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