JTA awarded federal ferry grant; readies for launch of community transit route

Aug. 7, 2019
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority plans upgrades to the St. Johns River Ferry and is prepping for service of the “Magenta Line” to begin on Aug. 12.

Water and community transportation services provided by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will see new routes and upgrades thanks to a federal grant and the start of a new line.  

JTA will use a $3.9 million Passenger Ferry Grant from the Federal Transit Administration to move forward on the next phase of upgrades to the St. Johns River Ferry. The work includes $5.6 million worth of work to bulkheads, catwalks, warehousing, mooring bollards and other improvements to both the Mayport Village and Fort George Island facilities.

The Jean Ribault is a car and passenger ferry that connects the north and south ends of Florida State Road A1A, linking Mayport Village and Fort George Island via a 0.9-mile voyage across the St. Johns River, 2.5 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

“When the JTA took over operation of the St. Johns River Ferry in 2016, we also embarked on an ambitious plan to address needed upgrades and maintenance issues that had accrued over several decades,” said JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.

“The next phase of work is only possible because of the strong relationships we’ve built with our partners in Congress and with the FTA, who have seen firsthand how important this vital mode of transportation is to the thousands of customers who sail with us every day,” said Ford.

The JTA completed Phase III in January, which includes upgrades to the vessel, as well as operational and other safety improvements like rehabilitated bulkheads, new terminal bridges and stopping mechanisms. The grant will account for roughly 70 percent of the estimated $5.6 million project cost and represents Phase IV of JTA’s ongoing upgrade plan for the ferry system. Work is scheduled to begin in Spring 2020.

In other news, JTA plans to launch the Magenta Line on Aug. 12. The line is the newest Clay Community Transportation Flex Route to provide flexible and affordable transportation.

The line will make daily morning and afternoon trips from the Keystone Heights Senior Center to the Rosa Parks RTS Downtown Transit Station and standard fares are $1 per trip.

The JTA became the Community Transportation Coordinator for Clay County on Jan. 1, launching Clay Community Transportation. On March 4, the authority launched the Red and Blue lines, providing much needed flexible transportation services for Clay County residents, with stops between the Orange Park Mall and various locations. The JTA also provides paratransit services for disabled customers in Clay County.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.

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