Article originally published at WJCT.org
A stretch of Evergreen Avenue in the Eastside that continues to lack sidewalks more than 153 years after the neighborhood was originally platted. A historically marginalized and redlined community in the preconsolidated city limits of Jacksonville, the neighborhood would continue to be marginalized under a proposal by Councilman Aaron Bowman to dedicate all gas tax revenue to the Northwest Quadrant of the city.
The plan to double Jacksonville’s gas tax from 6 to 12 cents is running into some potholes.
Monday afternoon District 3 City Councilman Aaron Bowman said he will be introducing an amendment that would cut in half the tax that Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing.
Bowman’s amendment would modify the current 30-year, nearly $1 billion legislation that is planned to be spent throughout the city and includes replacing and expanding the Skyway system, to what Bomwan calls a “more reasonable” 3 cent, 10-year gas tax with all proceeds going to the Northwest quadrant of Jacksonville. Bowman’s Southside district does not cover the area he’s designating.
“Now is finally time to come through with our promises on which we sold consolidation over 50 years ago. I am disappointed that once again we have been talking about spending massive amounts of money raised by a new tax and we conveniently have forgotten about making this an equitable city. I am confident my colleagues will agree that we have a chance to do something that will make every part of this city a place that is safe, people are proud to live, and infrastructure is first class,” Bowman said in an email sent to WJCT News.
The current unamended legislation would fund improvements to roadways, drainage and transit across the city.
A plan by JTA to dedicate $379 million of the projected local gas tax revenue to replace the Skyway with expensive unproven autonomous vehicle technology is getting pushback from the City Council. In addition to Councilman Bowman’s proposal, Councilman Matt Carlucci has proposed redirecting $150 million from the Skyway to instead construct the Emerald Trail system through 14 urban core neighborhoods.
The biggest chunk of the money - $379 million – would be used to convert the Skyway into the U2C, which would be a system of autonomous electric vehicles that would run on the Skyway’s elevated infrastructure while also running at street level into urban core neighborhoods such as Springfield, Riverside and the sports complex.
Bowman’s move comes on the heels of fellow City Councilman Matt Carlucci’s telling WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union on Friday that he plans to introduce an amendment Wednesday which would redirect $150 million in proposed gas tax funding from the Skyway conversion to instead be used for the development of the Emerald Trail, which is a planned 30-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that would connect 14 urban core neighborhoods.
Carlucci’s shift has full backing from Mayor Curry, his chief of staff Jordan Elsbury told the Times-Union.
“From a policy perspective, the mayor has always supported funding the Emerald Trail,” Elsbury said. “This is a revenue source that can cover it and the mayor is 100 percent supportive of the amendment.”
Article by Bill Bortzfield at WJCT.org. Bill can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.
Photographs and captions by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org