Updated:JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is looking to extend the Skyway into the Brooklyn area of Jacksonville.
JTA is in the application process for a federal TIGER grant that would provide about $14 million in federal dollars. JTA would match the funds with a little less than $11 million in local funds.
Brad Thoburn, JTA vice president for long range planning and system development, said the money is already set aside.
“It’s funding in reserves today that are dedicated for matching state and federal funds,” said Thoburn. “Generally they are local taxpayer funds.”
If the TIGER grant is approved, the new Skyway track would extend 740 feet into the Brooklyn area from existing track at the operations and maintenance center. A new station would also be constructed.
“One of the criticisms of the Skyway over time has been it doesn’t get you where you want to go,” said Thoburn. “That’s one of the exciting pieces of the Brooklyn extension. Now you’re going to start to see residential development on the Southbank tied with residential in Brooklyn and a Fresh Market.”
Rider Sheree Andrews told Action News she is in favor of Skyway expansion, but would prefer to see a track to the stadium.
“That would cut down a lot of traffic during the time when there is games,” said Andrews.
We asked Thoburn about that possibility.
“I think part of that will also be tied to whether there is development beyond the stadium and the arena and the sports complex,” he said. “Because for that to work you really do want to have demand 24-7, 365 days out of the year, not just event-driven demand.”
The TIGER grant would also fund what JTA calls a “critical mid-life overhaul” of the trains, a more energy-efficient propulsion system, LED lighting and safety improvements.
Thoburn said JTA could learn any day whether the funding is approved, but he expects it will be a couple more months.
Action News asked whether there are future plans to again start charging riders for the Skyway. Thoburn said that decision is reevaluated on an annual basis, depending on the budget.
If approved, the TIGER grant would also provide about $760,000 for a bike share program, that JTA would match with about $760,000.