JAX2025 “Transportation Vision” key to achieving others?

Is “smart parking app” first step?

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

One thing that many who attended the second of five JAX2025 participatory events agreed upon was that “fixing” transportation was key to achieving the vision for the other nine categories. As the U.S. city with the largest landmass, Jacksonville is a lot of ground to cover with an unconnected transportation system.
Granted, while most of the daily rush hour traffic is likely coming from within a 10-mile radius of the city – according to a December 2012 report of the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Study Commission, less than 8% of Duval County residents work outside of the county – there’s still a feeling that our region’s methods of transportation are not connected. The percentage of people working outside of six other northeast Florida counties is four to seven times higher, with many commuting from Nassau, Baker, Clay and St. Johns counties to downtown Jacksonville.

During one of the two 45-minute brainstorming segments at the February 2nd event, participants working on the vision statement for transportation at one table were adamant about implementing solutions such as a 24/7 Skyway schedule, a light rail system that extends beyond the 2.5 miles served by the Skyway, covered and paved bus stops, more park-and-ride lots in areas where day care centers and retail shops can serve commuters, and, above all, the use of smart technology.

One resident coming in from the Beaches noted that he was stopped at every traffic signal at 8:30 on a Saturday morning with no cross traffic at the lights. “This is a city of restrictions, not movement,” he said. “The technology exists to recognize when a light needs to change for traffic.” Another participant added, “Why aren’t there mobile apps that provide the bus schedule and let you know when they’re running behind?”

Coincidentally, speaking of transportation apps, three days later Mayor Alvin Brown unveiled a new partnership with a leading provider of innovative parking solutions to implement a smart parking system in certain sections of Downtown. By early March visitors with smartphones or laptops will be able to find on-street parking spaces in real time, as well as the locations of parking garages and lots, by using the app ParkerTM by Streetline.

Installation of 99 parking sensors began early last month along Laura Street from Monroe Street to Independent Drive and spanning several blocks of road intersecting Laura Street, including Adams, Forsyth and Bay Streets. In addition to providing the location and availability of parking spaces, the app can be used as a timer to track remaining meter time and as a walking guide with directions back to the parking spot. And, along with search and mapping functionality, Parker includes a hands-free option with audible cue when available parking is nearby.

Back at the Prime Osborn on that early February Saturday, one table struggling to come up with a bold, clear and compelling vision statement on transportation unanimously agreed that when this issue is successfully resolved, other categories – such as Distinctive Neighborhoods/Vibrant Downtown, Education, a Vibrant Economy, Arts and Entertainment, a Clean and Green City, and a Healthy Community – will be positively impacted. To see the participatory vision statements for each category visit www.facebook.com/
Jax2025/photos_stream.

It’s never too late to join the visioning process. The next JAX2025 meeting will be Tuesday, Mar. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the Prime Osborn. Parking is free; light refreshments will be served. Register online at www.JAX2025.org.

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