Boyer heads committee researching ‘context sensitive’ streets

Guidelines support goals of 2030 Mobility Plan

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

Imagine Jacksonville as a city where traffic is managed through extensive use of affordable, reliable mass transit and smart, eco-friendly street design that encourages walking and biking with safe, continuous sidewalks and bike paths.
That was the vision put forth a year ago by the city’s Planning and Development Department in a handbook, Context Sensitive Streets: Street Design Guidelines. A special committee has formed to review those guidelines and, as charged by Council President Bill Bishop, “…determine the appropriateness of these guidelines, investigate any other information pertinent to this issue, and make recommendations for and/or draft legislation as appropriate to address this issue.”
The committee, chaired by Lori Boyer, District 5 Councilwoman, had its first meeting on September 12. It also includes council members Greg Anderson, Doyle Carter, Kimberly Daniels and Don Redman.
“We will be looking at the guidelines – which are only recommendations and not standards – and see what we need to do to implement them from a design and engineering viewpoint,” said Boyer in a pre-meeting interview.
As defined in the guidelines, “Context Sensitive Street Design (CSSD) is an approach to roadway planning, design and street operation, to meet regional transportation goals while enhancing neighborhoods and considering the adjacent uses of land. CSSD respects traditional street design objectives for safety, efficiency, capacity, and maintenance, while integrating community objectives and values relating to compatibility, livability, sense of place, urban design, cost and environmental impacts.”
The guidelines support the goals of citywide vision plans and link to the 2030 Mobility Plan through “multi-modal street function [design], community livability and economic vitality.”
“The vision plans followed through into the mobility plan itself. It went from the very broad topic of the Mobility Plan and now we’re getting right down to the very specific topic of context sensitive streets,” said Laurie Kattreh, transportation specialist with the city who briefed the committee on the guidelines.
Kattreh noted that the Mobility Plan has four strategies: funding through a mobility fee, a multi-modal transportation approach, connecting land use and transportation, and “incentivizing” quality growth and development through the mobility fee process.
“The connection between land use and transportation is the context,” said Kattreh. “When we say ‘context sensitive,’ we’re talking about the land use.” Rural areas have separate requirements from suburban areas as does the busy central business district.
In addition to Kattreh, Melody Bishop and Laureen Husband from the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition also gave a presentation on the positive effects of context sensitive streets on health and the
economy.
About 20 interested citizens attended the meeting, one of whom voiced support for both CSSD and the Mobility Plan, which is currently nearing the end of a yearlong fee moratorium.
“I look forward to October when the fee moratorium expires and we have an opportunity to really start to fund some of these initiatives that we’re talking about,” San Marco resident Doug Skiles said.
Kattreh ended her presentation with words that may have reflected the sentiments of most in the room: “When you see it [CSSD] already in place, it’s beautiful.”
To see a video of the meeting go to the City of Jacksonville’s CSSD webpage:
http://www.coj.net/city-council/council-committees-boards-commissions/context-sensitive-streets-special-committee.aspx

(Editor’s note: A second meeting was planned for September 26, after this edition of the Resident went to press, in which Boyer invited members of the public works and planning departments to talk about what guidelines currently exist that might conflict with the contest sensitive street recommendations. A third meeting is scheduled for October 11 at 4 p.m. to which special interests groups that may be impacted by a change in these regulations will be invited to speak.)

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