Long-term transportation planning includes widening and commuter rail projects for St. Johns

Long-term transportation planning includes widening and commuter rail projects for St. Johns

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — St. Johns County leaders heard more details Tuesday on a long-term plan to improve transportation.

The plan includes several hundred projects from now until 2045.

Neil Chancey moved to St. Augustine from North Carolina a few years ago.

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One of the biggest changes he has noticed is the traffic.

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"The comparison is unbelievable between up there in North Carolina," said Chancey.

It's something everyone notices, especially the planning director of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, Denise Bunnewith.

"Every county in the region right now is really growing. We expect our population to be over 2 million by 2045," said Bunnewith.

She gave county commissioners a presentation on the 2045 long-range transportation plan.

Several projects are in the works, including the widening of state roads 16, 27 and Race Track Road, just to name a few.

And there's more.

"Commuter rail from St. Augustine into downtown Jacksonville, investments in bicycle and sidewalk improvements," she said.

The booming development this county has experienced is a major focus.

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Problem is, that while development and population keep increasing, Bunnewith said funding is not.

Right now, transportation projects are funded through the fuel tax which Bunnewith said is not sustainable.

"Long-term we need to find another way to fund transportation improvements," she said.

One thing is for sure, said Bunnewith, the way we move around today won't be the way we move around in 2045.

The next step comes in December when commissioners will be asked what their priority projects are so they can be submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation.

According to North Florida TPO, the 'needs plan' has several hundred needed projects with a current estimated cost of $13 billion over the life of the project.
The Cost Feasible Plan includes fewer projects and has a cost of $4.6 billion.