Portion of controversial Urban Trails Project in Jax Beach gets go-ahead from city council

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Local leaders have green-lit a portion of a controversial new walking trail. It’s part of the Urban Trails Project in Jax Beach -- a walking trail that would connect neighborhoods across the city.


However, this new section will not affect people’s yards, which is a concern many have with this project.

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The first phase will start at Jacksonville Drive and South Beach Parkway. Designers plan to make the sidewalk go from five feet to eight feet for bikers and walkers.

“It’s just a widening of the sidewalk that’s already there,” Jacksonville Beach Director of Parks And Recreation Jason Phitides said.

Phitides presented the updates of the Urban Trails Project to city council on Monday night.

The overarching goal is to create a multi-use, urban trail network that would connect parks and green spaces in a safe way for everyone to use.

But some are concerned with the space it could take up on people’s properties.

ORIGINAL STORY: Upset Jax Beach residents return to table with city council on controversial Urban Trails project

“Nobody wants this going through their front yards,” Jacksonville Beach resident, Bruce Wouters said. “It’s a great concept, but we have to make it work for the community.”

Wouters joined over a dozen people at Monday’s meeting to learn more about the project.

The first four corridors of the project include 15th Avenue North, 8th Avenue North/9th Avenue, 4th Avenue North, and Jacksonville Drive.

The city council green-lit the first phase of the project, which will begin the final design and construction on Jacksonville Drive from South Beach Parkway to A1A.

“It makes sense to start on that leg of the trail, so people can see what it’s going to look like -- it’s not that invasive,” Phitides said.

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The first phase includes the off-road option to expand the existing sidewalk from the road. This sidewalk along Jacksonville Drive will expand to be eight feet wide and will have a roughly two-feet buffer between the road and the path.

Wouters said he appreciates council taking their concerns into consideration.

“That’s the perfect place to do it,” Wouters said. “And they need to find more sites like that where it’s really not in anyone face’s or hinging on anyone’s privacy, and they’re right to security with all these strangers driving by your windows at all hours of the night.”

The other two options the city is exploring for the rest of the project include building the trail into the existing roads, making roadways into one-way lanes.

The other option is to put the trail next to the road, narrowing existing roads to a minimum nine feet wide. But this option need to get reassessed since city code requires lanes to be at least 10 feet wide.

City council still has to approve this, so nothing is concrete yet.

“Depending on what they decide, you might have trails that are one one-way roads or you might have a hybrid of those three options depending on the location and the corridor that we are looking at,” Phitides said.

FDOT says the minimum standard for local roads is 10-foot lanes, but for interstates it’s 12 feet. So, in this case, the city’s and state’s codes align when it comes to Jacksonville Drive.

And in the next steps, staff will update the concepts for all four corridors, and allow council to review them before the next council briefing set for July 8.

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