City of Jacksonville to Remove Downtown Boulevards on Main Street

By Benjamin Cox on April 25, 2024 at 2:28pm

File Photo from Aug. 10, 2023 of when a pumpkin truck was removed from a center boulevard on North Main Street.

The City of Jacksonville is going to see some changes to the aesthetic on the Downtown Square.

Officials began talking back in August about possible changes to the boulevards on North and South Main Street. The talks began after a semi hauling pumpkins got stuck on the North Main boulevard attempting to turn off of the square.

The entrances to the square are currently too narrow for large trucks to navigate. The square is not a designated truck route and is posted with signage.

However, the City of Jacksonville’s Head Groundskeeper John Green told the Jacksonville City Council Monday night that despite the signage, trucks continue to to attempt to navigate through the North and South Main Street turns on the square. He noted that the boulevard on North Main Street was struck again last week. He says the turns are also difficult for the city’s larger fire engines.

Mayor Andy Ezard says that KE Vas, the city’s main street contractor, is taking an aggressive approach on removing the boulevards completely: “It’s pretty aggressive [on the timetable] because the contractor has gone ahead and marked it off with JULIE flags. We anticipate the removal is coming sooner rather than later. We don’t know the exact timeframe, but usually when you JULIE something, it’s usually within the next month, I would imagine that the public will see some movement. We will make sure that we give the general public plenty of time to know what’s happening. We’ve tried to keep this from happening. Although we haven’t had a significant accident where a truck has gotten stuck [again] or crossed up in the fencing recently, we’ve had a lot of [collisions] over the years since the revitalization. We know that the islands are aesthetically pleasing to look at, but we feel that with the rest of the work that we are doing, we’ll satisfy that aesthetic by helping get traffic in and out more efficiently.”

The cost of removing the boulevards will be approximately $60,000. Mayor Ezard says that a line item was already in the current year’s budget for the project. Ezard says that all of the plants and everything will be recycled back into various parts of the downtown area.

Ezard says that the necessity of it all was due to liability and the wish to avoid another problematic collision: “We don’t want to do this. We wished the signs would have worked. We have had them for a number of years, but it’s time. We don’t want to face another truck getting caught up and then having the fight with the insurance companies, the trucking company all in trying to get something fixed. It all takes awhile and then the square looks aesthetically bad, too until we can get everything resolved.”

Ezard says a press release will be forthcoming on when the project will get started and if any traffic pattern changes will be necessary.