Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents See Plan to Ease Traffic Crunch

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents See Plan to Ease Traffic Crunch

Article excerpt

A handful of Mandarin and Southside residents took a first look Tuesday at a $4.3-billion transportation plan intended to help ease the traffic crunch transportation planners say will beset the city in the next 20 years. The plan includes 24 new road projects.

What they saw was a proposal that will need new taxes to pay for projects like an $11-million widening of Greenland Road, a $5.5-million widening of Hartley Road, a new $125-million interchange at Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95, and a new $2.4-million Bowden Road extension.

They also saw a plan that recommends more mass transit to prevent those roads from becoming gridlocked.

Seven residents attended the two-hour Transportation Master Plan hearing at Mandarin High School, one of seven held last week to give Jacksonville residents time to comment on a draft transportation improvement plan drawn up from public comments garnered during similar hearings in April.

Some at Tuesday's hearing didn't like what they saw.

Resident Rick Hartley said he doesn't want dedicated bus corridors along major commuter roads, like he's seen in Miami.

"Here I sit in gridlock looking at two lanes I can't touch," he said. "I swear I will be on the rooftops saying, 'You will not tax me one percent to add a lane I can't use.' That is someone's pie in the sky. I want to see something innovative."

And resident John Leon wondered if commuters who come to Jacksonville from St. Johns and Clay counties could help pay.

"Is there a possible way to have these people who create a lot of this congestion and problem we live with bear a certain amount of that burden?" he asked.

The transportation plan, introduced in December, includes $2.5 billion for roads and $1.5 billion for mass transit improvements, with the rest slated for sidewalk improvement, bicycle lanes, even automated message boards on highways.

Geoff Pappas, a city transportation planner involved with the transportation plan, said the hundreds of road projects are just a wish list that will be whittled down by the City Council after more public workshops. …

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