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St. Johns could have new shortcut soon


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St. Johns could have new shortcut soon

Proposal would build boulevard to Jacksonville by June 2007.


The Times-Union

Northwest St. Johns County residents hungry for a faster way to Interstate 95 would get that connection three years sooner under a proposal made by Bartram Park, a mega-development on the Duval-St. Johns county line.

Bartram Park's 1,250-acre development of homes, shopping centers and office parks will have a 3-mile boulevard connecting Race Track Road in St. Johns County to St. Augustine Road in Jacksonville, near I-95. The road would be open to traffic by June 2007, according to a proposal given to St. Johns County and Jacksonville City Hall.

St. Johns County drivers have two options if they want to head north from Race Track Road. They can use Florida 13 or U.S. 1, which are 13 miles apart. Bartram Park Boulevard would provide a third way north into Jacksonville and save 4 miles of travel to I-95.

"Personally, I think that would be a big help," said Phyllis Abbatiello, president of the Northwest St. Johns County Community Coalition. "It will give you a lot more freedom."

Jacksonville City Councilwoman Sharon Copeland said she's hopeful the new road will reduce the number of St. Johns County residents on congested San Jose Boulevard, which is what Florida 13 is called where it enters Jacksonville.

Bartram Park's developer agreed to the timetable for finishing Bartram Park Boulevard as part of a proposal to change some conditions set by Jacksonville and St. Johns County when the governments approved the project in 2001.

Jacksonville City Council's Land Use and Zoning Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the changes, sending the matter to the full council for a vote next week. The St. Johns County Commission has not set a date for a vote, but the county's staff is recommending approval, said Shawn Collins, the county's transportation planning manager.

"We're trying to put in a system in the northwest sector where people have more choices," he said.

Bartram Park's master plan has always featured Bartram Park Boulevard. The issue has been when it would be built. Under the agreement approved in 2001, Bartram Park Boulevard could not connect to Race Track Road until the developer finished widening part of Race Track Road to four lanes. Bartram Park's developers have said that would prevent completion of Bartram Park Boulevard until 2010 to 2012.

The proposed change would flip-flop the two road projects. After Bartram Park Boulevard is done in mid-2007, the developer would do the four-lane construction on Race Track Road starting in February 2008, assuming the county has bought the needed right of way by then.

"We think it's a good fix for everybody," said Tom Dodson, president of Bartram Park Ltd.

Dodson said a big jump in road construction costs, which have caused overruns on government-financed road projects, has likewise increased the price of widening Race Track Road. To cover the higher cost, he said it's possible Bartram Park won't be able to make a future $8 million payment to Jacksonville City Hall for road work in the city.

Copeland, whose Mandarin district includes Bartram Park, said the city could definitely use the money but she's not counting on it due to the expense of Race Track Road. Even though Race Track Road is entirely in St. Johns County, she said Jacksonville can benefit from the road becoming four lanes.

"You have to look at it [traffic] from a regional perspective," she said.

In addition to road work, Copeland said she's pleased Bartram Park Ltd. has agreed to extend the offer of donated land for a school site to 2015, instead of a cutoff date of 2010.

Bartram Park also wants approval to build on more wetlands as part of the Race Track Road widening, Dodson said. The development would preserve a 1,099-acre wetlands tract in St. Johns County to offset wetlands damage, according to the proposal.

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ive never heard of bartram park, if theyre referring to bartram springs at the end of race track it wouldnt help that much since you can hop on us-1 right there and take st.aug rd to get to 95. and that is pointless too when you can just travel north us-1 to 95 by the avenues or take phillips to go anywhere else. and for mandarin access there is san jose/13. if they really were thinking about growth they wouldnt have placed the rest area on 95 within mile of race track, that would have been a fast connector, but theres some law exits can only be soooo close. so since i have to go to bartram if i want to visit friends out on 210 i have to make a huge detour instead of using 95. it sucks but it wont change. and as for the new road it would probably only benefit the stores or development on it. if that makes any sense.

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^Thats probably the main reason for this road.  It should effectively open up thousands of acres along I-95 for development.


thousands of acres, many of which are owned by the mayor's family company. to be clear, i'm not suggesting any sort of corruption or unethical dealings ... rather, i'm merely reminding everyone of our mayor's personal and professional stake in the proliferation of sprawling development to the south.

but anyway, this new road is good news, all things considered. growth is going to happen regardless. given the option, multiple parallel routes are almost always a better idea than simply widening existing roads (a lesson Jacksonville desperately needs to learn). SR13 and US1 are already 6 lanes wide in many spots ... we certainly don't need to make it 8 or more.

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