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carmen headshot Noli

Portrait by Wall Street Journal stipple artist, Noli Novak, Riverside Resident

News & Notes From Your Executive Director

ACTION NEEDED! FDOT Only Allows Public Comments to December 31!

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has recently proposed an approximately $136M project that would widen the Fuller Warren Bridge. The project also contains two other parts that would build a flyover ramp for westbound traffic on I-10 to US 17 (Roosevelt) and create/modify lanes on I-10 eastbound from the Stockton Street exit through the ramp onto I-95 southbound. A rough graphic representation of the proposed project is available and can be viewed here. However, FDOT has not provided any more detailed information about the proposed project, which is estimated to take three years to construct.

The Riverside Avondale Historic District, the Riverside Arts Market, the Artist Walk extension of the Riverwalk, Riverside Park, and North Riverside will all likely be impacted. We do not yet know how much additional right of way will be necessary, what specific buildings and/or homes will need to be demolished, or the extent of negative impacts of construction on our neighborhood. We have significant concerns related to the process and potential effects of the project itself that should be addressed BEFORE the proposed project is funded or approved:

We encourage you to contact the FDOT District 2 Secretary Greg Evans at: Greg.Evans@dot.state.fl.us by December 31, 2013 to voice your concerns about the FDOT’s failure to follow normal and best planning practices and the potential negative impacts of this proposed project. See below for talking points on the failure in the process and the negative impacts of this project. There should be additional opportunities for public input, but they will likely occur after the project has been funded.

It is also important that your local elected officials hear our concerns. District 14 Councilman Love, District 9 Councilman Jones, At-Large Councilman Lumb, and At-Large Councilman Anderson all represent the impacted area and Councilman Bishop, Councilman Brown, Councilman Carter, and Councilman Gaffney all serve on the TPO Board. They can be contacted at: JimLove@coj.net, WAJones@coj.net, RLumb@coj.net, GAnderson@coj.net, WBishop@coj.net, RBrown@coj.net, doylec@coj.net, Gaffney@coj.net

Duval Representatives Lake Ray and Reggie Fullwood serve on the Florida House of Representatives Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee and Duval Representative Audrey Gibson serves on the Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. They can be contacted at lake.ray@myfloridahouse.gov, reggie.fullwood@myfloridahouse.gov, gibson.audrey.web@flsenate.gov.

Concerns About The Process

Lack of Notice; Lack of Proper Planning; and Lack of Meaningful Opportunity for Public Input

• FDOT has been planning the project since July, 2013 and did not announce the proposed project to the public until a meeting on December 9, 2013;
• Although the December 9, 2013 meeting was noticed as a public meeting, neither the notice nor the agenda described or identified the proposed project in any way;
• Prior to the week of December 9, 2013 FDOT did not provide any information related to the proposed project to the Mayor’s Office, the Jacksonville City Council, the City of Jacksonville Planning Department, or the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization Board (TPO) responsible for approved FDOT Work Programs;
• The proposed project was not previously included in the FDOT District Two Five Year Work Program or Long-Range Plan;
• FDOT proposed this project only after losing another project in District 2, to avoid losing $130M to another District;
• The deadline to receive public comments on including the proposed project in the FDOT District 2 Tentative Work Program for FY 2014/15 through FY 2018/19 is December 31, 2013, less than one month after the citizens of Jacksonville were made aware of the proposed project for the very first time;
• A Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study will not be conducted before the project is funded, which does not follow the normal process;
• A design-build process will be used to construct the proposed project, resulting in an even further compressed and overlapping planning process; and
• It should not be a foregone conclusion that the proposed project is simply accepted and built as proposed – FDOT has suggested that it is all or nothing.

Concerns About The Project

No Demonstrated Need For the Proposed Project and Significant Potential Negative Impacts

• No specific data, study, or other objective information demonstrating the need for widening the Fuller Warren Bridge or constructing a flyover from I-95 to US 17 have been provided;
• The primary basis for the project articulated by FDOT has been the effect of the Overland Bridge project currently under construction. As with the I-10 I-95 interchange itself, the true success or failure of the Overland Bridge project and its impact on I-95 traffic cannot be known until it is completed and allowed to operate. A project currently under construction should not be the basis for circumventing the normal FDOT Five Year Work Program process;
• Previous expansion of the I-95/I-10 Interchange has already encroached into the neighborhood and had negative impacts on the neighborhood as a result of years of construction and significant additional noise;
• The Riverside Arts Market is located under the Fuller Warren Bridge and the City should ensure it is not negatively affected by the proposed project. With the City’s commitment and support the Riverside Arts Market has helped create jobs, economic activity and drawn visitors to Jacksonville’s core;
• The Artist Walk extension of the Riverwalk and the dog park being developed at Riverside Park will also utilize space under the Fuller Warren Bridge and I-95 and the City should ensure they are not negatively affected by the proposed project. The Jacksonville City Council has approved both of these projects, with FDOT’s blessing, which are critical in continuing the positive cultural and economic momentum in the area and helping connect downtown with Riverside;
• Almost $15M is included in the proposed project to buy right of way. Homes and buildings will likely have to be demolished to provide additional right of way necessary for construction of the proposed project, in particular for the Fuller Warren expansion and the flyover from I-95 to US 17, and we do not know how Riverside Park may be impacted;
• The proposed project’s impact on the St Johns River and McCoy’s Creek is not known and a PD&E study will not be completed before the proposed project is funded; and
• The proposed project will cause the urban core to suffer through another three years of construction, virtually ongoing since 1996, that is designed to support vehicles passing through/driving by the urban core, not to it.

Please also let RAP know your input. We will be involved throughout this process and will be working with all parties involved to ensure that the neighborhood and the City’s concerns are addressed.

Carmen

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