Will a futuristic $57 million transportation center revolutionize Jacksonville transit? – Florida Instances-Union

At first look, the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center appears to be like prefer it would slot in at Disney World, the place monorails run by accommodations.

A curving, glass-walled 5-story constructing wraps round an present Skyway station close to the Prime Osborn Conference Center. There’s a gap for Skyway trains to enter and exit on their elevated tracks. Down at road degree, buses roll below the constructing by one other opening.

If it doesn’t appear to be a typical bus station, that’s the purpose, Jacksonville Transportation Authority officers say.

The transportation center is a part of JTA’s technique to get folks to suppose once more — or perhaps for the primary time — about catching a bus and leaving the automobile at residence.

“After we take a look at this facility, you consider Union Station in Denver and Grand Central Station in New York,” JTA Chief Govt Officer Nat Ford mentioned after a Tueday floor-breaking ceremony. “These are iconic services that transcend generations. That’s what we’re doing right here. We wish one thing that’s enticing. We wish one thing that’s a vacation spot in and of itself.”

When completed in late 2019, the $57 million transportation center can have an estimated 12,500 riders every day passing by it. The center can have a separate bus terminal for Greyhound, which is able to relocate its downtown website on Pearl Avenue. The brand new bus terminal, slated to open in January, can have an elevated walkway spanning Forsyth Avenue to the 40,000-square-foot administration constructing that may home JTA workplaces and an enclosed passenger space for JTA riders.

The transportation center shall be a connecting piece within the First Coast Flyer, a new 57-mile community of categorical bus routes by the suburbs that JTA is constructing to draw “selection riders,” the time period for individuals who don’t depend upon the bus to get round city.

Attracting these selection riders has lengthy been a problem. Jacksonville’s sprawl has made transit a powerful promote, leading to years of stops and begins in planning. The controversy over constructing the transportation center goes again to the 1990s.

“This has been a very long time coming,” Metropolis Councilman John Crescibmeni mentioned in remarks on the floor-breaking.

The First Coast Flyer likewise is a work in progress. JTA is combining its personal funding with state and federal for the flyer, a bus fast transit system whose complete value will tally about $132 million.

To this point, JTA has accomplished half of the system with the Inexperienced Line working by northwest Jacksonville to Interstate 295 on the Northside, and the Blue Line going by the Southside to The Avenues mall space.

Subsequent up is the Purple Line going by Arlington and out to Jacksonville Seashore, with completion slated for subsequent yr.

The final leg, dubbed the Purple Line, will run by the southwest a part of Jacksonville and observe Blanding Boulevard into Clay County. JTA hopes to have the route completed in 2019 when the transportation center is slated to open, however the company should safe federal funding for that section.

The First Coast Flyer is ready up so buses arrive at stops each 10 to 15 minutes. They journey at larger speeds than common buses as a result of they make fewer stops, and devoted bus lanes assist the buses keep away from site visitors congestion. Buses additionally get precedence at site visitors lights to remain on schedule. General, the on-time efficiency for First Coast Flyer buses is 90 p.c, Ford mentioned.

“We’ve obtained to entice of us to attempt it out, and as soon as they fight it out, they’ll keep it up,” Ford mentioned.

Together with the problem of engaging selection riders, the regional transportation center will check whether or not JTA can spark financial improvement in the identical approach transit companies have laid the groundwork in different cities. The bottom-breaking ceremony featured the discharge of butterflies symbolizing the prospects of a transformation of the downtown-space LaVilla neighborhood.

JTA board Chairman Isaiah Rumlin recalled LaVilla’s roots as an African-American cultural and business center, saying it “is becoming we're establishing a monumental constructing on such wealthy and hallowed floor.” The Ritz Voices choir linked to that previous by singing “Carry Each Voice and Sing,” which was written and composed by Jacksonville natives James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson.

The final word return to the neighborhood’s glory days for transportation can be to deliver Amtrak passenger rail service to the a part of the Prime Osborn Conference Center that was Union Station.

Ford mentioned JTA is working to get funding and approvals for bringing passenger rail service to the transportation center. However there isn't any timeline for when it could occur.

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Will a futuristic $57 million transportation center revolutionize Jacksonville transit? - Florida Instances-Union