Sen. Marco Rubio had some good news for Jacksonville Thursday, with $25 million in federal funding coming through for priority projects.
“Great news today for
#Jacksonville. Working with Mayor @LennyCurry @CityofJax we have been able to get @USDOT to fund both the Bay Street Innovation Corridor & the Urban Core Riverside [SIC] projects,” Rubio tweeted.
These funds represent real capital that could bring together some of the Curry administration’s biggest priority projects to bring back downtown and the stadium area.
Great news today for #Jacksonville. Working with Mayor @lennycurry @CityofJax we have been able to get @USDOT to fund both the Bay Street Innovation Corridor & the Urban Core Riverside projects. More details coming in press release. #Sayfie
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 6, 2018
The Bay Street Innovation Corridor: a three-mile stretch of road downtown using autonomous vehicles and smart city technology, tying together rapid transit buses and a new multimodal transportation center. Jacksonville will get $12.5 million for this project, which is estimated to cost $62 million.
The second project: Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization and Complete Streets, also known as the removal of Hart Bridge offramps. Jacksonville will get $12,462,500 of federal money to augment $25 million of local and state money via a Department of Transportation Build Grant.
Roughly $25 million, total.
“It is a great day for transportation in Jacksonville,” said Curry.
“Our city scored two federal grants that will afford us the opportunity to enhance downtown access, improve traffic conditions and safety, and bolster innovation throughout our downtown footprint. We are incredibly grateful for our partnerships with Secretary Elaine Chao and the USDOT staff, Senator Marco Rubio, Representative John Rutherford, Representative Al Lawson and JTA CEO Nat Ford and his team. They are all true champions for our City of Jacksonville,” Curry added.
JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. added, “I’m proud to stand with Mayor Curry for the dual award of these projects that join together on Bay Street. This is an example of true partnership and working together to implement the Mayor’s vision of One City, One Jax.
“The award of this grant money will allow JTA to execute the first phase of the anticipated Ultimate Urban Circulator (U²C), on Bay Street, from the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) to the City’s Entertainment District on the eastside of the corridor,” Ford added.
The Hart Bridge grant application notes the spend “will better utilize investments to leverage $2.5 billion of private development in and around the Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment complex and former Shipyards property,” including replacing the “outdated and obsolete elevated expressway that has served to block all prospects for redeveloping the old Shipyards and surrounding properties.”
“This project directly addresses the main impediment to development along the waterfront in this section of downtown. This project will demolish the elevated bypass, and in its place will construct a ramp from the Hart Bridge to street level on Bay Street. A second ramp will be constructed at the corner of Bay Street and A. Phillip Randolph Boulevard to go over Hogan’s Creek, a creek the City has plans to activate in the near future.”
Beyond development, the grant application pointed out the fact that the elevated expressway destroyed neighborhoods and that returning roadways to grade would help revitalize some of the most left-behind neighborhoods in the city.
These new wins are not the only bit of good news for Jacksonville transportation upgrades this week. The city opened up another route on its citywide rapid transit expansion.
The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams was in town, lauding the “new East Corridor [rapid transit] Red Line running from Jacksonville Beach to Downtown.
“We appreciate the Federal Transit Administration’s support for the First Coast Flyer BRT project,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
“Already the largest BRT network in the Southeast, the new 18.5 mile Red Line nearly doubles the footprint of the existing First Coast Flyer Blue and Green lines,” Ford said.
This particular line cost $34 million, and the feds are paying roughly half the cost. All told, the federal government has absorbed that level of cost over the entire $134 million project.