Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Buildings Begin Giving Way to Progress Riverside Avenue to Be Expanded in Coming Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Buildings Begin Giving Way to Progress Riverside Avenue to Be Expanded in Coming Years

Article excerpt

The old grocery store on Jacksonville's Dora Street was built of brick and cinderblocks, but when a front-end loader rammed it yesterday morning, the walls crumbled like a sand castle in the surf.

After 15 minutes, the long-vacant building was a pile of rubble.

A handful of other buildings in the Brooklyn neighborhood will meet the same fate over the next two weeks as the state Department of Transportation makes room for the eventual widening of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street. Today, the action will move to buildings along Riverside when the building that used to house a One Price Dry Cleaning store bites the dust.

It's the start of a demolition program that will raze more than 20 buildings by the end of 2001 in Brooklyn, located near downtown. The cost of acquiring property, relocating businesses and demolishing buildings is expected to total about $28 million, making it one of Northeast Florida's most expensive transportation projects in the coming year.

The state also will begin building a huge new interchange in 2001 that will link Florida 9A, the beltway being built through the Southside, with Interstate 295 and Interstate 95.

"That is probably going to be one of the most difficult jobs we've ever undertaken," said transportation department spokesman Mike Goldman, citing the high number of cars on I-95 and I-295.

Other state projects on the horizon include widening Southside Boulevard to six lanes from the I-95 ramps to Butler Boulevard and widening I-95 in north and south Duval County so the highway is six lanes the entire length of the county.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority, meanwhile, will move forward with construction of the Wonderwood Connector by starting to build the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. The entire Wonderwood road, linking Mayport to Arlington, is slated to be finished in summer 2003, and the bridge will be the most time-consuming part of it.

The JTA also will start building the Regency Square bypass, a new interchange connecting Arlington Expressway and Southside Boulevard so drivers can loop around the mall without using traffic-congested Atlantic Boulevard.

The state does not plan to start road-building on Riverside Avenue until summer or fall of 2002. The task in 2001 will be to complete the acquisition of property in order to make room for a six-lane, landscaped boulevard, plus get property for ponds to treat the rainwater runoff from the road.

A wider Riverside Avenue and Forest Street will connect downtown with a rebuilt interchange for Interstate 10 and I-95 planned west of downtown. Beyond the transportation impact, the project also will clear out chunks of land, leaving them open to redevelopment in much the same way that Jacksonville City Hall tore down old buildings in the LaVilla neighborhood nearby. …

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