Press Releases

Governor Crist Signs New Transportation Legislation

Enhances Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s ability to serve Northeast Florida

JACKSONVILLE – Governor Charlie Crist today signed legislation that will enhance transportation projects in Duval County . House Bill 1213 enhances the ability of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to plan and develop transportation projects throughout Duval County and to enter into agreements with neighboring counties.

“Today, we are creating new opportunities for the people of Duval County to have faster, safer and more efficient travel in the future,” said Governor Crist.  “Access to reliable transportation is a cornerstone of independence and opportunity, and this bill will help ensure those liberties for decades to come.”

“We understand that transportation and mobility are the keys to growth for our communities,” said JTA Board Chairwoman Ava Parker. “The passing of this legislation will give us the opportunity to access more federal dollars. That will benefit not only Jacksonville , but all the surrounding counties.”

The bill, passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate and sponsored by Representative Audrey Gibson and Senator Jim King, clarifies that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is an agency of the state, serving Duval County rather than the City of Jacksonville . The legislation allows the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to enter into public-private partnerships and repeals the $375 million cap on funds it can be loaned from the State Transportation Trust Fund. The legislation also directs a study funded by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority of the potential framework for a regional transportation authority for the northeast region of Florida .

“We are thrilled that Governor Crist took the time to come to Northeast Florida to personally sign this legislation into law,” said JTA Executive Director/CEO Michael J. Blaylock. “The passing of this bill is the critical first step in regionalizing transportation in Northeast Florida .  A regional transportation effort is what will be needed as we move to bring a multi-modal approach to the area, including commuter rail, bus rapid transit, street cars, Skyway, buses and more.”

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority, an independent state agency serving Duval County , has multi-modal responsibilities. JTA designs and constructs bridges and highways and provides varied mass transit services. These services include express and regular bus service, a downtown Skyway monorail, the Trolley service, the Stadium Shuttle for various sporting events at Jacksonville Stadium, JTA Connexion for the disabled and elderly, and ChoiceRide that connects employers and employees to job access through customized transportation options. 

The legislation also lays the groundwork for the development of public/private partnerships to construct critical transportation corridors. The First Coast Outer Beltway, the current project being proposed, connects I-10 and I-95 outside of the I-295 loop at no cost to the Florida Department of Transportation or the state. The beltway starts at Brannan Field-Chafee Road and will run through Clay County and end in St. Johns County . An outer beltway would open new avenues for moving commercial traffic to the Cecil Field area without adding congestion to existing roadways and provide additional capacity across the St. Johns River .  Construction of the beltway could ultimately create 35,000 jobs in the region and stimulate the job markets of Duval and Clay counties.