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First Coast Connect

5/23/2017: Transportation Budget; Toll Roads Express Lanes; Michael Freed; Movable Feast; Jazz Fest

Tuesday on “First Coast Connect,” we have an update on President Donald Trump’s proposed $1 trillion transportation spending bill from the Fiorentino Group’s Marty Fiorentino (01:16), who was recently in Washington working with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on infrastructure spending. We also talked about upcoming toll roads and express lanes on the First Coast with the Florida Department of Transportation’s Mary Justino and Hampton Ray (26:54). Jacksonville attorney Michael Freed and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid President and CEO Jim Kowalski (36:35) talked about an upcoming event. The latest edition of “Moveable Feast” hosted by Leigh Court featured Dana Stallings (41:10), and WJCT music director David Luckin (49:48) discussed this weekend’s Jacksonville Jazz Festival and corresponding programing on “Electro Lounge.” 


Trump Transportation Budget

The Trump administration has an ambitious rebuilding plan for the nation’s infrastructure. But it is facing hurdles, including disagreements over funding offsets, conservatives worried about the price tag, a packed legislative calendar and tension from the Russia probes. Meanwhile, the First Coast is closely watching the infrastructure plan unfold. Fiorentino will address the Jax Chamber’s Transportation & Logistics Council Thursday to talk about his recent work with Chao and what it could mean for Jacksonville.   

Toll Roads and Express Lanes  

Express Lanes will be opening this fall on Interstate 295 in Jacksonville. They’ll be the first tolls in Jacksonville since tolls were removed from the bridges in 1989. The cost will vary depending on the amount of traffic. The lanes will run from I-95 to the Buckman Bridge and from 9B to Butler Boulevard. The First Coast Expresswaywill be a full limited access toll road that when completed will run from I-10 to I-95 through Duval, Clay and St. Johns County. Use of both the toll road and express lanes will require a SunPass.        

Michael Freed    

It’s a mission designed by Freed to provide pro bono attorneys an appreciation for their efforts in helping low income and special needs individuals. It’s “Freed to Run: Six Marathons in Six Days,” which begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at the Florida Supreme Court. Freed will run his first of six marathons over a six-day period. It’s all to raise $50,000 for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. His marathons will begin at the the county courthouses in Jefferson, Madison, Suwanee, Columbia and Baker counties, and end 4 p.m. June 2 at the Duval County Courthouse.  

Movable Feast

She’s a food impresario who runs the place where the city’s caterers come to cook. Cort spoke with Dana Stallings, owner of Kilwin’s and Jax Kitchen. Kilwin’s at the Saint John’s Town Center is famous for it’s candy, desserts and ice cream. Jax Kitchen on Emerson is open 24 hour a day, seven days a week for caterers.

Jazz Festival

Since first taking place in 1981, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival has become one of the largest jazz festivals in the country, offering a fun and vibrant street festival atmosphere. It takes over 15 blocks of downtown from May 25- 28. It features three stages of live jazz along with local food, shopping and entertainment. Artist featured this year include The Chick Corea Trio, The Commodores, Taylor Roberts and Eric Carter.    

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax


Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.