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No federal funding for skyway, expansion possibilities still a go

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Updated: 9/10/2013 8:48 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Transportation Authority's plans for expanding the skyway system into an up and coming neighborhood.

The only problem is, it didn't get the funding to do it and the cost isn't cheap.

"It's convenient. And it gets you there fast," said Jacquelin Thornes.

She rides the JTA skyway several times a week, but she'd like to see it reach more destinations.

"I hope they go take it all the way to Arlington if they can," she said.

JTA knows more stops means the potential for more riders. It's one reason the agency is working to construct a new transit point on Riverside Avenue, where construction is underway on a new apartment complex complete with shops and a park.

Unfortunately, JTA did not secure a $10 million TIGER grant to pay for half the cost.

"There were over nine billion dollars worth of applications and only one in ten got awarded, so while we're disappointed we understand it's very competitive," said Brad Thoburn, JTA's Vice President of Strategic Planning.

City Councilman Bill Bishop sees the potential expanding the skyway.

"Than would be for the first time extending the skyway to somewhere where there's actually a lot of people going to live that could potentially use it," he said.

But he isn't on board with dumping city money into something that currently doesn't pay off.

"I don't want to see the city spend any money on that system until I know what part that system is going to play in a master transportation plan," said Bishop.

Thoburn said the investment goes far beyond the skyway or JTA. It's about boosting downtown so the price tag is worth every penny.

"Public transportation is not about making money. It's about making investment that makes our community better. Moves people, connects people, strengthens downtown," he said.

JTA will continue searching for other available grant funding to help pay for the cost of the project.
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wishmistress - 9/11/2013 2:41 AM
0 Votes
If this is such a great idea, then let the builders/sponsors pay for it and reap all those wonderful payouts later.
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