Plans for a transportation, energy and safety innovation coordinator running through Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville have been visualized in a new video presentation.
It was unveiled at this week’s Jacksonville Business Journal Downtown Development Forum.
The video ties together many of the ideas already being pursued such as solar powered sidewalks, autonomous electrically-powered streetcars that would replace and expand the existing Skyway system, and a variety of sensors and information that would be tied together with apps and other software.
“Imagine a city that connects people, places and information, effortlessly,” the video begins, as it introduces what is being called the North Florida Smart Region Coalition. It’s members are:
- City of Jacksonville
- Downtown Investment Authority
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office
- Jacksonville Transportation Authority
- Jax Chamber
- North Florida TPO
The presentation goes on to say the corridor will connect people with residences, jobs and entertainment destinations. The video pitches Bay Street as downtown Jacksonville’s gateway and presents a picture of a vibrant nightlife scene filled with people walking on solar-powered streets as the proposed JTA U2C (UIltimate Urban Circulator) EVs shuttle people back and forth.
Safety would also be enchanced with cameras and software, which explains why the Sheriff's Office has signed on as partner.
The presentation is the latest in a series of moves to ultimately make downtown Jacksonville a technology and connectivity hub.
Last week JTA announced it is joining forces with Florida Polytechnic University’s Advanced Mobility Institute on research as JTA continues testing autonomous vehicles with the goal of transforming the Skyway to efficient self-driving electric vehicles that would also run along Bay Street and into several urban core neighborhoods.
The video also shows off a solar-powered intersection on Bay Street that could in theory provide power to street lights, sensors or other electrical needs the project will have.
In an earlier interview with WJCT News, North Florida TPO Executive Director Jeff Sheffield said if the solar idea gains traction it would likely start with a few blocks of sidewalks.
Once completed, the three-mile corridor would run along Bay Street from the under-construction Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center across from the Prime Osborn Convention Center to TIAA Bank Field, which Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to expand into a wide-ranging entertainment development, starting with Lot J.
Thursday the city and JTA announced they were each will be awarded $12.5 million in federal grant money, which will help get the project underway.
JTA will use its grant money to modernize the Skyway system with the autonomous electric vehicles that will run along Bay Street and serve as one of the centerpieces of the project.
The city will move forward with traffic improvements plans along part of Bay Street and Gator Bowl Boulevard that will result in the Hart Bridge downtown ramp system being demolished and being replaced with wider roads that will include pedestrian and bicycle friendly features.
WJCT News has previously reported that the overall Bay Street innovation corridor plan is expected to cost almost $63 million with funding coming from a variety of local, state and federal sources.