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JTA's CEO Says Transit Agency Is Planning For Regional Growth

JTA CEO Nat Ford (right) is pictured last month speaking with Fla. Department of Transportation District 2 Secretary Greg Evans.
Florida Department of Transportation
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JTA CEO Nat Ford (right) is pictured last month speaking with Fla. Department of Transportation District 2 Secretary Greg Evans.

Now that the Jacksonville City Council has voted to double the local gas tax from 6 to 12 cents a gallon, attention is turning to the projects that will be funded by tax.

The tax, which will go into effect January 1, is forecast to generate about a billion dollars over 30 years.

Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nat Ford said Thursday on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross the money can only be used for transportation projects like resurfacing and upgrading roadways and bikeways, and taking care of deferred maintenance. 

Ford said the JTA will be tackling a list of 72 projects.  “We have basic maintenance of our streets, expansion and safety of our streets, as well as dealing with some future needs as we grow as a community.”  

The City Council also approved money for the 30-mile urban Emerald Trail network and for JTA to modernize and expand the JTA's Skyway system with automated vehicles that will go down to street level. 

Named the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C), the upcoming fleet of autonomous electric vehicles are expected to eventually replace the existing monorail trains.

The new revenue will also free up money for the city to spend on septic tank removal.

Ford also discussed the possibility of a future light rail line running from Jacksonville to St. Augustine and north to the Jacksonville International Airport.

The full interview with Ford can be heard on Thursday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, which encores at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.

Michelle Corum can be reached at mcorum@wjct.org, 904-358-6308 or on Twitter at @MCorumonME.

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.