Leader Blues

Friday, August 08, 2008

TOP STORY > >Jacksonville, Metroplan to meet on bottlenecks

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville city administrator Jay Whisker has asked Metroplan assistant director Richard McGee to hold a public meeting in Jacksonville on tra-ffic bottlenecks and congestion.

McGee announced at the July Metroplan board meeting that the agency would arrange for some public meetings.

Whisker said Jacksonville would have requested a meeting in the city anyway, but that a letter from a local developer caused immediate action.

Judith Beale, a general partner in Dupree Brothers, which has plans to turn the old “bean field” into a multi-use development, wrote to Whisker, McGee and others requesting the meeting.

Metroplan wants to identify points of congestion as part of its next long-range transportation plan, according to McGee.

He said information gathering and public input would occur after school is back in session, because that changes the traffic patterns. They also want to identify places where safety is an issue, McGee said.

Toward that end, Beale has also asked for traffic-accident data between Kiehl Avenue and Vandenberg Boulevard for the years 2005—2007.

“Because of the congestion levels and severe accident problems experienced almost on a daily basis through Jacksonville on Highway 67/167, I believe the residents of Jacksonville deserve as many town hall meetings and workshops as can possibly be held during September,” Beale wrote.

Identifying problems is the first step toward solving them, McGee said, and while some might take many millions of dollars in an era when highway and road funds are scarce, others might involve only synchronizing traffic lights or asking employers along a certain stretch of road to stagger their shift hours.

McGee said Thursday that Metroplan would wait until it’s determined how many meeting requests it receives before setting a schedule.

The meetings will be held in September, he said. Then the public will have a couple of weeks to respond before staff presents recommendations to the board, McGee said.

It also will include congestion issues related to transit and bike routes and related safety issues.