First Coast Commuter Rail inches forward

11:15 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The first step in speeding up slow commutes on the First Coast cleared its first hurdle.

The Southeast corridor between St. Augustine and Jacksonville is now listed as the top priority for the much anticipated First Coast Commuter Rail.

It's good news for Mike Kinchen, who spends 40-plus hours a week behind the wheel as a tow truck driver for Adkison Towing.

"That's always a dead giveaway. Accidents on I-95, 295 but we'll take the side roads like Baymeadows, Philips Highway," he said.

The slow-and-go around Jacksonville is pushing tow truck drivers with Adkison Towing to take alternate routes because what used to be a 35-minute response time has increased to 45 minutes or less.

Kinchen said the never ending cycle of congestion and construction from Mayport to St. Augustine is to blame. But crazed commuters could be getting the break they've been waiting for as the First Coast Commuter Rail System Plan inches forward.

The 38-mile St. Augustine stretch of the plan is getting the green light from the North Florida Transportation Organization (TPO), after looking at growth patterns, existing infrastructure and expected growth.

The TPO is part of north Florida's long range transportation planning and works in conjunction with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA).

JTA officials tell First Coast News the estimated capital cost for the overall network is $622 million. The Southeast corridor, which would service the St. Augustine area, is estimated at $172 million.

Officials said it is too soon to determine where the funds will come from.

First Coast News

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