New Liberty Street Repair Plan To Save Jacksonville $28 million

Aug 26, 2015

 

Construction on Coastline Drive downtown blocks off St. Johns River access.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride

Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson is proposing a solution to infrastructure woes on downtown’s Northbank.

Orange blockades and “caution” signs still line the riverfront after parts of Liberty Street collapsed into the water over the the past few years.

 

Anderson’s plan would cost the city less, $37 million instead of a previous estimate of $65 million, and be completed sooner.

 

 

 


Gina Ditommaso steps out of the Riverfront Hyatt Regency hotel downtown on Wednesday afternoon. She’s standing beside a three-tiered fountain, picking out music for her run.

 

“I’m here for a work trip,” Dittommaso said. “So this is my first time here.”

 

But between the hotel and the St. Johns River is the Coastline Drive Bridge, a restricted area blocked off with barricades And to her left...

 

“It looks like a parking lot that’s getting reconstructed,” Dittommaso said.

 

It’s the empty lot behind the old courthouse, also built over the river. And the state transportation department says it’s a liability.

 

Council President Anderson is proposing to demolish that lot and an adjacent walkway.

 

“You know, it just does not present the right view of our city,” Anderson said. “We have people coming to the largest hotel, the convention hotel, that we really have in town, and that’s what they see. And so it’s time to fix it.”

 

Another part of his plan is to reconnect the Riverwalk through the condemned area, creating sort of an inlet around where the parking lot would be demolished.

 

Anderson says he also wants to beautify the walkway, and replace parts of Coastline Drive and Liberty Street, all for $28 million less than original state estimates.

 

“It will take an area that really is blighted and turn it into a showpiece for our community,” Anderson said.

 

Back on Coastline Drive, Cliff Wilson is power walking.

 

He says he walks here three or four times a week, but he has to turn around at a line of orange barricades.

 

“I think the longer that it sits around dormant and the improvements aren’t finished, that’s when it becomes a little bit of an eyesore, Wilson said.”

 

The City Council Finance Committee voted Wednesday to tentatively include Anderson’s plan in the city budget. The project is estimated to take 2 1/2 years to complete.