Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Faces Tug-of-War over Gas-Tax Money; Areas Where Road Projects in Limbo Seek Inclusion in Council's Extension Talks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Faces Tug-of-War over Gas-Tax Money; Areas Where Road Projects in Limbo Seek Inclusion in Council's Extension Talks

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

Hard choices await Jacksonville City Council members deciding whether to extend the city's 6-cent gas tax.

Take the case of the long-planned widening of Kernan Boulevard's northern end. Bill Kintz remembers that when voters backed the Better Jacksonville Plan in 2000, the long list of road projects included widening the traffic-packed northern segment of Kernan Boulevard.

It hasn't happened yet, even as more subdivisions and a third school were built along Kernan between Atlantic Boulevard and McCormick Road.

Kintz, chairman of the neighborhood-based Kernan Coalition, said Thursday that residents will be "hopping mad" if plans to finally widen Kernan don't get funded this time around.

The half-cent sales tax collections for the Better Jacksonville Plan fell short of projections, leaving many projects in limbo.

To get road construction moving again, the City Council is considering an extension of the local 6-cent gas tax. But even a gas tax extension would leave lots of road projects stuck on the drawing board.

"The treaty the city made with the Kernan Coalition and the voters was they were going to finish the final phase with the next round of tax dollars," Kintz said. "That was the treaty they made with the Indians," he said, drawing a comparison to bygone days of Native American land struggles with the federal government. "They may have forgotten it, but we haven't."

In the preliminary list of road projects that could be built by gas taxes, widening Kernan Boulevard from Atlantic Boulevard to McCormick Road didn't make the $170 million list drawn up by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

In addition, six other Better Jacksonville Plan projects didn't make the list.

Those are Cahoon Road from Lenox Avenue to Beaver Street, Girvin Road from Atlantic Boulevard to McCormick Road, Old Middleburg Road from 103rd Street to Argyle Forest Boulevard, Parramore Road extension, Ricker Road from Old Middleburg Road to Morse Avenue, and Shindler Drive from Collins Road to 103rd Street. …

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