Councilman Opposes Southside Overpass

27 10 2004

Jacksonville City Councilman Lad Daniels said he will try to stop construction of an overpass at Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road. He said the city would get far more by adding lanes on the Florida 9A beltway.

Daniels would need at least 13 of 19 City Council members to agree because the Better Jacksonville Plan, approved by voters in 2000 with a half-cent sales tax increase, calls for an overpass at Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority will take the next step toward building an overpass when a Nov. 8 public hearing unveils the design for a four-lane bridge that takes Southside Boulevard drivers over both Baymeadows Road and nearby Old Baymeadows Road.

The JTA has been studying the intersection for two years and recently finished a regional traffic study that says an overpass is a critical piece of what’s needed to reduce rush-hour delays along the length of Southside Boulevard.

Daniels said drivers would benefit more from improvements to Florida 9A, the four-lane highway the state Department of Transportation expects to finish building through the Southside in 2006. Daniels said 9A needs to be six lanes before an overpass is built at Southside and Baymeadows.

He added the city shouldn’t make any decisions on the overpass without having updated cost estimates, which won’t be available until March or April.

The Better Jacksonville Plan earmarked $25 million for the Southside-Baymeadows overpass. A year ago, JTA estimated it would actually cost about $36 million. This year, higher prices for concrete and steel have driven up road construction expenses. JTA Deputy Executive Director Matt Dominy said it will cost more than $36 million to build the overpass.

By April, the JTA will have financial estimates for building overpasses and more ground-level lanes at numerous intersections along Atlantic, Beach, Southside and Kernan boulevards. After hearing the total cost, the City Council will make decisions on changing the Better Jacksonville Plan’s original list of projects.

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