Shortly after we opened our office in the heart of San Marco Square in 2011, we became aware of several challenges:
- Crossing from one side of retail shops to the other is very pedestrian unfriendly. A person must navigate 6 lanes of traffic using 3 signals which are often broken. Many drivers fail to yield to pedestrians at the marked crosswalks and many use the parking backup lane as an opportunity to speed past cars waiting at the signal.
- A proposed roundabout will be too close to the existing traffic signal, causing a backup into the roundabout.
- The business environment would be greatly enhanced by more green space and additional parking.
Working with the San Marco Merchants Association, City of Jacksonville Public Works and District City Council member, Lori Boyer, we developed a solution that would achieve all of these goals while remaining within the existing budget for the San Marco Boulevard Streetscape project currently under construction.
A series of meetings were held with stakeholders to gain broader support for the plan, that when complete will:
- Add 14 parking spaces
- Shorten vehicle travel time by as much as 50% (by removing traffic signals)
- Improve pedestrian connectivity (by reducing the lane crossings from 6 to 2)
- Reduce impervious area by 16,000 sf (easing drainage problems in the area)
- Create additional public gathering space at the center of San Marco Square, that will be available for events and not require the closure of the main roads.
We are now leading the efforts of design, fundraising, legal and marketing subcommittees to begin construction in January 2012. From conception to completion, the project will take less than one year, and will result in no additional disruption to the businesses.
We have recently read this article, The Payoff from Parks, and are excited about this park’s potential to increase the land values in San Marco.
Here are some picture updates of the completed project.