After decades of trying to make traffic move quicker and smoother, local officials apparently have decided to make a U-turn and slow everything down.
In the 1950s, many downtown streets and streets leading to downtown from the suburbs were changed to one-way traffic. For example, College and Post streets.
In the past few years, however, streets have been returned to slower two-way traffic.
Also, annoying speed bumps seem to be popping up everywhere.
Perhaps the nuttiest example of “speed bumps” is the intersection of Laura and Bay streets.
The Laura Street project was bid about 10 years ago, according to the city’s Public Works Department. The intersection was constructed with cobblestone around the spring/summer of 2011.
That’s right: they ripped up a perfectly good, smooth pavement surface and put down bumpy, slippery cobblestones that rattle vehicles crossing them.
The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission specified the cobblestone materials to be used on this project. How that contributes to economic development is beyond comprehension.
It isn’t clear whether the intent was to “beautify” the intersection or make it slower but it failed on either count.
It is so ugly and so unpleasant to drive over that many drivers probably go around the block to skip the experience.
Unfortunately, the geniuses who do this stuff plan to do the same to five intersections along Laura Street altogether.
The cost for the cobblestone portions of the intersections is approximately $346,800, a city spokesman said. With the brick paver crosswalks added the cost increased by about $24,000.
Who knows what the planners are planning? Maybe they are in league with the “preservationists” who would have Jacksonville looking as it did a century ago if they had their way. They are opposed to tearing down anything, ever. Currently, a bunch of them are complaining on Facebook about the miraculous changes for the better being made in the Brooklyn area, long a slum, by the private sector.
Returning the streets to those of 1920 may also be seen as desirable.
Certainly, some of the infrastructure improvements downtown have been worthwhile, and complement the private sector growth that has happened.
But if politicians really want to spur downtown development, as they constantly claim, they would avoid making it more difficult to navigate through the area. And make certain there is ample parking.