Riverside welcomes Skyway expansion proposal

News that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority has decided to extend the Skyway to Riverside was greeted with exclamations of “Cool” and “Brilliant!” and lots of questions.

Where are they going to put it?

Where’s it going to stop?

When’s it going to start?

How are they going to pay for it?

The answer: No one knows yet.

The new system, given the green light at JTA board’s December meeting, would also go to the Sports Complex and could include a route to San Marco when The District residential community opens.

“We call it Skyway, but it will be vastly different than it is today,” JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford told the JTA board.

The new system will use driverless cars that can travel on an elevated track or at ground level, thus making it much more flexible.

When the Skyway went on line 27 years ago, JTA had great hopes the system would transform public transportation in downtown. But the 2.5-mile system never really caught on even though it is free. And the once-advanced technology is now obsolete.

For the past year, a JTA committee has been studying options for the future. One thing is very clear — Brooklyn and Riverside are becoming a residential hub, increasing the need for public transportation.

“Anything that encourages transportation would be a good thing,” said Tim Massett, owner of Sun Ray Cinema in 5 Points. “People are talking about it. It’s a start. People have a perception that it’s difficult to park in 5 Points, but it’s not as hard as people think it is.”

Allan DeVault, owner of Black Sheep restaurant, said he thinks the proposed expansion would be “awesome.”

“I can take it from Black Sheep to our new spot downtown and then on to BLK SHP [restaurant] at Intuition [Ale Works],” DeVault said.

JTA doesn’t have a timeline yet for when Riverside residents can hop on the Skyway. The agency must figure out the engineering and funding, which could include private/public partnerships as well as state and federal funds.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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