For years, Metro Jacksonville has reported that the group behind All Aboard Florida, a "higher speed" intercity rail project under construction between Miami and Orlando, has been considering future expansion into downtown Jacksonville. Now there's no more need to assume that we've been speculating. Now, an Orlando Sentinel Growth Spotter mentions an All Aboard Florida contract states that "it is understood and agreed" that a Jacksonville leg is being considered.
Locally, there's been very little media coverage and political understanding of what All Aboard Florida is and how it can possibly play a role in the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville. For example, if expanded to town, it's likely that trains will return to the historic Jacksonville Terminal. All Aboard Florida is also making headways across the state by building Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) around their stations.
While this can be good news for the neighborhood formerly known as LaVilla, what does it mean for the future of the Prime Osborn Convention Center? When it comes to mass transit, what could this mean for the Skyway's future and JTA's recent announcement of expansion consideration? Could we be looking at a day soon, when someone can hop on a train in Orlando or Daytona, ride to Jax and then take the Skyway to a Jags game? Could we be looking at a day in the near future where it's possible to hop on a train, with hourly service, that makes one stop commuting between downtown and St. Augustine feasible? Many of these questions and more should be seriously evaluated locally in 2016.
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Renderings - What is All Aboard Florida
by Ennis Davis, AICP.