Residents turn out to offer ideas for improving 5 Points traffic flow

Residents turn out to offer ideas for improving 5 Points traffic flow

By Stephen Kindland
Resident Community News

More than 80 people came up with a litany of suggestions on how to improve traffic flow in the 5 Points area and how to make the busy commercial district safer for pedestrians and bicyclists during a recent public forum.

Architect Doug Skiles (second from right) talks to a group of local residents during a recently held public forum on ways to improve traffic flow and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the 5 Points commercial district

Architect Doug Skiles (second from right) talks to a group of local residents during a recently held public forum on ways to improve traffic flow and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the 5 Points commercial district

The forum – held Sept. 17 at Sun-Ray Cinema in the heart of 5 Points – was part of a concept study being conducted by Stephen Tocknell of Tocknell Planning Services. Tocknell said he plans to incorporate the feedback into his study, which should be completed within the next several weeks.

“When we’re done, I promise you are going to see the results of your own efforts,” he told his audience.

The forum focused on possible ways to lessen motorist confusion – and the risk of injury to pedestrians – at the 5 Points intersection where Park, Margaret, Post and Lomax streets converge; as well as possible improvements to several other intersections, including Post at Park and Margaret streets.

The iconic 5 Points intersection has long been a source of confusion for pedestrians and drivers – especially motorists unfamiliar with the area. A suggestion to turn Lomax into a one-way-street from Margaret to Oak streets seemed to go over well, but would need further consideration before it becomes a
recommendation.

Other suggestions included installation of street-level warning signs for motorists at the mid-block pedestrian crosswalk on Park Street in front of Sun-Ray Cinema; and aesthetic improvements, such as flower baskets being attached to new lamp posts and murals being painted on some outside walls.

Someone also suggested that a centralized dumpster area be introduced as a way to eliminate the “alley way” look along Margaret Street, between Park and Post streets.
Improvements to other areas are being considered as well, including the crosswalks at Park and Margaret streets; Lomax from Park to Oak Street; and Margaret from Post to Park, and from Park to Herschel Street.

Riverside residents Tracey Moore and Troy Lukkarilla said they were impressed with the attentiveness of breakout session leaders who listened to dozens of suggestions from local merchants and private citizens.

“It sounds like a major overhaul for 5 Points,” Moore said. “It’s long overdue, and this is a coordinated effort.”
Lukkarilla said he thinks completion of whatever is recommended in the concept plan would benefit the entire city.
“5 Points could be the ‘must see’ area of Jacksonville,” he said.

The 5 Points Merchants Association and Riverside Avondale Preservation are paying Tocknell $36,000 to complete the study, which will be shared with city planners and engineers – and possibly be used as a blueprint for the city to implement proposed improvements.

Stephen Tocknell, who was hired by the 5 Points Merchants Association to develop a concept plan to improve traffic flow and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Five Points commercial district, talks to 5 Points property owner Mike Shad during a recent public forum.

Stephen Tocknell, who was hired by the 5 Points Merchants Association to develop a concept plan to improve traffic flow and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Five Points commercial district, talks to 5 Points property owner Mike Shad during a recent public forum.

City Councilman Jim Love has pledged his support, and will be seeking as much as $750,000 to make the improvements starting in fiscal year 2014-2015.
The need for more efficient traffic flow while creating bicycle and pedestrian safety will become even more pressing in the near future, when residential complex construction projects are completed. The projects include 220 Riverside, a 294-unit apartment complex being built in nearby Brooklyn.

Tocknell said the forum exceeded his expectations.
“I was very pleased with the number of people who showed up – and the fact that they were all so engaged,” he said. “We did in two hours what would have taken me 12 hours to do.”

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