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Building Up and Out in $20M Skyway Expansion

11:21 PM, Jun 18, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Above the busy streets of Downtown Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's Skyway is marketed as a convenient commute for downtown patrons.

Now the transit system that is constantly under scrutiny is putting together a $20 million expansion.

Joshua Hopper uses the monorail everyday getting to and from work, but as we hop on next to him for the 2.5 mile route we noticed something missing, other riders.

According to JTA officials, about 4,000 people use the Skyway on an average day, a ridership that has doubled over the last year.

"It fits a niche and there are a lot of people that use it including me," said Gilberto Rodriguez, a Skyway commuter.

JTA is hoping to take advantage of its forward momentum by moving into Riverside with its current infrastructure that is not  being used for passenger service. 

The location of the new Skyway station would be adjacent to three construction sites including a planned apartment complex.

"I think it would be a lot more packed if it was going from Orange Park or the beaches," said Hector Rodriguez, a Skyway commuter.

JTA has estimated more than 1,200 people could be added to the daily number of riders if the project gets the green light.

Half of the funds would be coming from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant and the rest from JTA's $100 million reserve.

But is a $10 million investment really worth approximately 1,200 new riders?

"When the Skyway was planned you have to realize there were a lot more people downtown and five department stores, so we saw a lot of people leave and now we're seeing people come back," said Brad Thohurn, JTA's VP of long-range planning.

So with the Skwyay's success connected to the success of downtown, JTA's making a clear path towards construction and growth.

First Coast News

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