Council members: Add pedestrian, bike bridge to Fuller Warren project

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Plans are still in the works to spend more than $70 million to widen the Fuller Warren Bridge and redo the area where Interstates 10 and 95 connect, and now some Jacksonville City Council members say something else should be added: a pedestrian and bike bridge that would parallel the Fuller Warren, separated by a reinforced wall.

Five council members signed off on a letter by Councilman Robin Lumb to the Florida Department of Transportation asking for the addition and other changes to the project.

Marge Ptacek walks under the bridge every day and is intrigued with the idea of being able to walk across it.

"That would be awesome," she said. "I bike and I walk, and since I work downtown, it would just be ideal."

"Since we live in a city that is defined by and divided by a major river, trying to figure out a way for significant amount of foot and bicycle traffic to access the neighborhoods on either side of the river -- I think that is a game changer, particularly for a city that is trying to revitalize and reenergize its downtown neighborhood," Lumb said.

DOCUMENT:  City's letter to Florida Department of Transportation

Lumb and other council members say FDOT has to make some changes with the current landscaping and needs to add some sound barriers as well. Under the proposed project, it would call to redo the area of I-10 near Roosevelt Boulevard that could involved a new flyover.

But council members say, why fly over when people could go under?

"I think they can build it on the current footprint," Councilman Jim Love said. "They don't have to go and buy other properties and take down other houses. I think there is a way to do it instead of an overpass possibly, and I understand. I would like for them to look at that."

Council members don't want construction to interfere with the popular Riverside Arts Market. They say their conditions are reasonable and strike a positive balance with the goals of the FDOT and plans by the city to address neighborhood needs.

FDOT plans have changed since they became known in December. It has scaled back a bit from $130 million to $70 million for the project. The department will have more meetings this summer and have a full plan by November.

The department says it has not received the council members' letter yet and can't really comment until it does.

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