Bartram Park Shortcut in St. Johns by 2007

18 03 2005

Bartram Park’s 1,250-acre development of homes, shopping centers and office parks will have a 3-mile boulevard connecting Race Track Road in St. Johns County to St. Augustine Road in Jacksonville, near I-95. The road would be open to traffic by June 2007, according to a proposal given to St. Johns County and Jacksonville City Hall.

St. Johns County drivers have two options if they want to head north from Race Track Road. They can use Florida 13 or U.S. 1, which are 13 miles apart. Bartram Park Boulevard would provide a third way north into Jacksonville and save 4 miles of travel to I-95.

Jacksonville City Councilwoman Sharon Copeland said she’s hopeful the new road will reduce the number of St. Johns County residents on congested San Jose Boulevard, which is what Florida 13 is called where it enters Jacksonville.

Bartram Park’s developer agreed to the timetable for finishing Bartram Park Boulevard as part of a proposal to change some conditions set by Jacksonville and St. Johns County when the governments approved the project in 2001.

Jacksonville City Council’s Land Use and Zoning Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the changes, sending the matter to the full council for a vote next week. The St. Johns County Commission has not set a date for a vote, but the county’s staff is recommending approval, said Shawn Collins, the county’s transportation planning manager.

Bartram Park’s master plan has always featured Bartram Park Boulevard. The issue has been when it would be built. Under the agreement approved in 2001, Bartram Park Boulevard could not connect to Race Track Road until the developer finished widening part of Race Track Road to four lanes. Bartram Park’s developers have said that would prevent completion of Bartram Park Boulevard until 2010 to 2012.

The proposed change would flip-flop the two road projects. After Bartram Park Boulevard is done in mid-2007, the developer would do the four-lane construction on Race Track Road starting in February 2008, assuming the county has bought the needed right of way by then.

Copeland, whose Mandarin district includes Bartram Park, said the city could definitely use the money but she’s not counting on it due to the expense of Race Track Road. Even though Race Track Road is entirely in St. Johns County, she said Jacksonville can benefit from the road becoming four lanes.

In addition to road work, Copeland said she’s pleased Bartram Park Ltd. has agreed to extend the offer of donated land for a school site to 2015, instead of a cutoff date of 2010.

Bartram Park also wants approval to build on more wetlands as part of the Race Track Road widening, Dodson said. The development would preserve a 1,099-acre wetlands tract in St. Johns County to offset wetlands damage, according to the proposal.

Source: Florida Times-Union



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