Edgewood Avenue to get road, overpass rejuvenation

Edgewood Avenue to get road, overpass rejuvenation
The proposed construction along Edgewood Avenue would reduce the number of traffic lanes and add more parking spaces for area businesses. The targeted area is on Edgewood Avenue from U.S. 17 to the Lenox Avenue intersection and includes portions of Lenox Avenue.

Engineers with the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Transportation are planning ways to transform Edgewood Avenue, provide more safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and more parking for businesses. The plans are still in the design phase and the $4.4 million project would affect Edgewood from U.S. 17 to the Lenox Avenue intersection, as well as Lenox Avenue from that intersection to the intersection with Cassat Avenue. It also includes cleaning of the Roosevelt overpass, which might also become the site for a public art/permanent light display.

“The goal is to basically make the corridor more conducive to slowing traffic down, to make it a more walkable, bikeable area, and also to help businesses,” said Chris LeDew, City of Jacksonville chief of traffic engineering.

The proposed construction along Edgewood Avenue would reduce the number of traffic lanes and add more parking spaces for area businesses. The targeted area is on Edgewood Avenue from U.S. 17 to the Lenox Avenue intersection and includes portions of Lenox Avenue.
The proposed construction along Edgewood Avenue would reduce the number of traffic lanes and add more parking spaces for area businesses. The targeted area is on Edgewood Avenue from U.S. 17 to the Lenox Avenue intersection and includes portions of Lenox Avenue.

If current plans are finalized and funded by DOT, the four-lane undivided road would become a three-lane road with spaces for parking in the middle and enough room for bicycle paths. LeDew said that the narrower roadway would have the effect of slowing down traffic and shortening the distance that pedestrians need to cross and would also help bicyclists feel safer.

“There’s other bicycle facilities, bike lanes that were just built on Cassat Avenue and there are more bike lanes planned on Lennox to the west of Cassat,” LeDew explained. “That provides a connection for a network of bike lanes.”

Tony Nasrallah owns the Murray Hill Theatre at 932 Edgewood Avenue South. The theater is operated by Murray Hill Theatre Ministries and is a faith-based live music venue that can host up to 598 people for its events. Nasrallah said that overall, he liked the plan because it would add both bike lanes and extra parking although he was a touch concerned about traffic backup.

“I am at Post and Edgewood and that area gets backed up if you are at Post Street from U.S. 17 (Roosevelt Boulevard.) It backs up around there during rush hour time,” he said. “I think that might happen when it goes down to one lane in one direction. But I think overall that might be a positive thing; people have a tendency to go a little fast.”

Some aspects of the plan have been piloted in other areas, such as the diagonal parking in the middle of the roadway, which is already in service in such places as the 1100 block of Edgewood Avenue South. Similar parking would help businesses such as Vagabond Coffee, El Jefe and Murray Hill Public Library, LeDew said.

DOT Community Outreach Manager Hampton Ray said the project would likely not begin until mid-2021 and that the plan also includes ADA improvements and buffered bicycle lanes.

“The project will improve mobility, increase safety and serve to revitalize the corridor,” he said.

LeDew knew that some might worry about the reduction in lanes.

“That was examined, and it will not on this road because the volume of traffic on this road is really low. Four lanes are more than that volume of traffic needs, so you get to use it for things like bike lanes and parking,” he explained.

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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