Monday, November 5, 2012

I95 Overland Bridge Project Planned... with no bike facilities

If you live near the urban core of Jacksonville and drive an automobile, you likely know that the highways near downtown are pretty much a mess to navigate through. Although things are much better for automotive traffic in this area than it was when I was a kid (when I95 crossed the St. Johns River with a draw bridge), the area where I95 floats above the Southbank is just a mess, at best. Finally, this part of I95 is getting a facelift, which is great for motorists. What does all of this have to do with bicycles? It appears that bicycle connectivity was not thought of at all when re-designing the in-town roads underneath the highway.

As always, Ennis Davis of Metro Jacksonville breaks the project down in an easy to digest manner here. Bottom line is this: travel by bicycle should have been considered in these plans, but was not.

The Overland Bridge Project is expected to fix highway issues in this particular area on the Southbank for the next 50 years or so (according to an engineer I spoke with at a BPAC meeting last week), and if we want bicycles to be included in the plans, the time to act is now because there may not be the physical room to add bike lanes later on. This area is a major artery between a few different parts of town, and to ignore bicycle needs in this area would be a great disservice to the bicycling community.

Here's how you can help: 

Please take a moment of your time to write to the project manager of the Overland Bridge project and let him know that you want bicycling infrastructure included in his plans. Encourage your friends or anyone else who gives a damn, to write in as well. Deadline for comments is Friday, November 9, 2012. All interested persons are encouraged to contact or send an email to Craig Teal, P.E. at the Florida Department of Transportation.

Craig Teal, P.E., Project Manager
Florida Department of Transportation
1109 s Marion Avenue, MS 2002
Lake City, Fl 32025-5874
(386) 961.7703 or (800)749.2967
[email protected]


JohnnyK said...

I sent my email to Mr. Teal, however I think it would be good to post a sample of what to email Mr. Teal. For those of us that are not as close to the project as you are. I do ride these roads however I don't fully understand the politics behind this project so it makes it kind of seem like we are begging Mr. Teal to include bicycle facilities in his grand plan. When I thought that the State of Florida is supposed to consider bicycles in all infrastructure decisions due to the whole complete streets thing?

koula said...

Thanks JohnnyK! Here's a sample letter:

Greetings Mr. Teal,

The current plans for the Overland Bridge Project do not appear to involve the installation of any sort of bicycle access on the roads underneath the Bridge. This is a heavily bicycled area and bike facilities are a must in order to ensure safe passage through this area, which is a major connecting point between different parts of Jacksonville.

The cycling community of Jacksonville is a huge one and is made up of all types of people, many of whom rely on bicycles exclusively for their transportation to work, errands, etc. I urge you to please incorporate bike infrastructure in each new road or maintenance project to maintain connectivity and raise the bar in safety.

Thank you,

Re: the politics behind inclusion/omission of bike facilities: Designers are supposed to consider bicycles in infrastructure decisions, as you stated...but from what I understand from a pro-bike road designer, incorporating bicycles sometimes means pushing limits of what designers are allowed to do. Some designers are willing to push the envelope, but most (especially in FL) are not. So, they "consider" bicycles, but then deem that the road is not wide enough according to their guideline book (or whatever the problem is), and the designer often just stops there, and doesn't look for workarounds.

Stephen Tocknell said...

As long as there are bike lanes in the mobility plan that are not included in the design for the I-95 Overland Bridge, it's not really up to FDOT to decide whether or not to include bike lanes in this project. As I read the pertinent Florida statute, FDOT would have to provide some evidence that they have investigated bike lanes and that the additional costs are not justified. The pertinent statute is FS 335.065

JohnnyK said...

Thank you Koula that is much appreciated :) Honestly I wish I could get legistlation passed that said for every 2 lanes of right of way an additional lane must be added to accomodate bicycles and foot traffic.