JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than one-third of the money raised from the proposed 6-cent hike in Jacksonville’s gas tax would be used to expand the Skyway -- the underutilized automated downtown transportation system.
The Florida Times-Union once called it the joke of Jacksonville while others have referred to it as “Skyway to nowhere.”
With nearly $379 million of nearly $1 billion in revenue that the gas tax increase would generate over the next 30 years earmarked for Skyway expansion, the goal is to make it relevant. The expansion would use autonomous, street-level shuttle cars to reach the sports complex and towards Riverside.
“It’s past should not be its future,” JTA’s CEO Nat Ford said.
When the Skyway first opened in 1989 it went less than a mile. It was later expanded -- to 2.5 miles.
At the time there was an outcry from people not wanting to see local tax dollars spent on the system. When Jacksonville voted in 1988 to approve a half-cent sales tax to get rid of tolls, a promise was made that the new tax money would never go to the Skyway.
Tommy Hazouri, who the mayor at the time, wasn’t even keen on the project, then called the ASE -- the Automated Skyway Express.
“I still don’t support the ASE. I think it’s an expensive means of transportation for Jacksonville, but it’s with us. It is going to be there, so we have to make it work,” Hazouri said at the time.