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High-Tech Corridor: Jacksonville aims to create an innovative ‘Main Street'

Last summer, Jacksonville transportation officials unveiled plans to develop an innovation corridor along Bay Street downtown. As envisioned, the 3-mile-long corridor will serve as a test bed and showcase for new technologies designed to change the way people get around in cities.

The proposed Bay Jax Innovation Corridor runs east-west from an under construction transit center on the west to TIAA Bank Field on the east. Notably, the corridor’s east end is near the Shipyards, a $2.5-billion mixed-use redevelopment project by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

“We see it as an opportunity to reinvent Bay Street as the new ‘Main Street,’ ” says Jeff Sheffield, executive director of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). He says a major goal of the program is to “create more visibility for Jacksonville as an innovative community.”

Among the technologies that could be coming to Bay Street: Driverless shuttles, automated pedestrian detectors, flood sensors and dynamic lane markings (in-ground LED lights that can adjust to changing traffic patterns to ease congestion during peak travel times).

“We’ve garnered a lot of interest from various vendors from around the country and frankly from outside the U.S.,” Sheffield says. “The value for them is a real-world application and the ability to understand how their technology works. We can assess the technology and determine if it’s something we want to deploy more broadly throughout the region.”

The corridor, estimated to cost $63 million, ties into plans to modernize and expand Jacksonville’s downtown monorail using driverless shuttles. The cost includes construction of off-ramps along the monorail route down to Bay Street and a network of smart wireless sensors that can provide real-time information to pedestrians, drivers and autonomous vehicles.

Read more in the December issue. 

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