Covering a large area between Avondale and Ortega, St. Johns Park was established by the Ernest L. Hill Realty Company in the early 20th century as a 42-block streetcar suburb with wide streets, beautiful trees and attractive homes. Beginning operations in 1908, the streetcar line ran down Herschel Street, serving as a gateway into the fledging community where perspective buyers were encouraged to invest $10 cash and $5 per month in lots, priced at $350 to $600 each.
Although the streetcar system was razed and replaced by buses in 1936, the unorthodox intersection of Herschel Street and St. Johns Avenue is a remnant of an era when the city’s transportation network was designed to accommodate mass transit, person vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Now, 84 years laters and a part of the state highway system (State Road 211), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is considering changes to the roadway, striping and medians between Canterbury Street and Melrose Avenue. Proposed improvements include replacing two signalized intersections with roundabouts at St. Johns Avenue/Herschel Street/Geraldine Drive and St. Johns Avenue/Herschel Street just south of Woodmere Drive.
As a part of the roadway improvement project, the existing five-lane Fishweir Creek Bridge will be retrofitted to single travel lanes in each direction to accommodate parallel and diagonal parking spaces. Additional parallel parking spaces will be added along Herschel Street to the north and south of St. Johns Avenue. While the roundabout project includes sidewalk and crosswalk enhancements and could result in a sea of asphalt being transformed into a gateway for both St. Johns Park and Riverside/Avondale, the proposed plan does not appear to include bicycle infrastructure despite the corridor being a popular route for cyclist in the surrounding community.
Estimated to cost $1.2 million, the project is anticipated to start construction in early 2021 with an estimated Fall 2021 completion date. FDOT will be hosting an open house this afternoon on the project at the FDOT Urban Office Training Center located at 2198 Edison Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32204. The public is invited to drop by anytime between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. to view displays and discuss proposed modifications with FDOT staff and project consultants. A formal public comment period will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org