Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What is Your Quest? Crossing Jax Bridges

I was looking at some traffic data to see how busy my area of Jacksonville is when I came across the FDOT data for the area. After some playing around on the website, trying to find the busiest roads, I noticed that the bridges of Duval County are anything but serene. Let's do the math and figure out what it all means.

Based on 2016 data, here are the average daily traffic numbers for Jacksonville's bridges, starting from the north, including two bridges over the Trout River (first two) and three on the Ortega River. 107500 , 12900 , 73861, 72500, 52000, 12200, 30000, 159500, 5400, 43500, 22500, 137000, 47500. 

That's 776361 major bridge crossings per day, not including those over the Intracoastal. Actually, let's add those in. 23000, 51000, 42509, and 65500 = 958,370.

That means there are more major bridge crossings per day by vehicles than people in Jacksonville, or even Duval County. So what does it all mean? First, there's a lot of water here. Second, bridges must cost us a lot of money. Third, there must be a huge number of people who do not live in Duval County who use the bridges.


I'm sure politicians have debated the merits of bridge tolls before. Could you imagine the money we could generate with a $1 toll for each crossing? That's nearly $1 million per day! So much money that we could buy JEA ourselves in a few years. Or build a legitimate mass transit system. Or build real bike lanes and safe crosswalks. Or at least keep the bridges from falling apart. Even if we just nail all the people on the 95 or 295, and only for crossing the St. Johns, we'd still have over $350,000 per day. I'm not even a big toll person, but there's something to be said for that kind of cash.

Probably the biggest question is why so many people cross the rivers daily. With huge population increases in St. Johns County, that probably means even more crossings on the expressways. Of course, Jacksonville as an economic center does not want to alienate the people who work in Duval but live in St. Johns. However, I'd be curious to know what those of us in Duval pay towards any bridge upkeep. I know this was a major issue in Milwaukee, since most of the traffic traveling through the major interchanges came from the suburbs or out-of-state. Duval is or will be in a similar situation, so it will be interesting to see how we handle these issues. I can tell you one thing: annexing another suburb is not an option. As St. Johns continues to grow, there will be more and more situations where quality of life or costs in one county will be dependent on the other county.

Trucks kill our roads at a rate much higher than cars, so maybe we need to forget about swanky St. Johns BMW drivers in order to focus on trucks. The big three bridges have the following truck traffic daily: 17947, 12242, and 4284. Since one truck causes road damage at a rate over 9000 times that of a car, maybe these beasts should pay their fair share when it comes to road taxes--newsflash: they don't. Anyhow, $5 per truck crossing would still give us over $150,000 daily.